The ‘romance’ of foreign
Distance, perspective and an ‘inclusive nationhood’
in Empire and nation-building in the Caribbean
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This chapter focuses on how the migration of the Caribbeans to various countries and their exposure to various political activities in their host countries led to the foundation of the Federation of the West Indies. Apart from the racist discrimination, West Indian migrants in the United States also experienced a political freedom unknown in the West Indies, where conditions and censorship stifled free debate and few had the right to vote. This led to the formation of Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), which played important role in mobilizing the West Indian migrants in the United States. Migrants particularly in New York also developed a unique radicalism based on West Indian consciousness and for whom national boundaries became increasingly meaningless. These political ideas gradually came home to the West Indies through various diasporic channels, thus making the West Indians at home aware of their race, the need for redistributive economic and social policies and some form of self-governance for the West Indies, principally through the mechanism of a federation.


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