Merze Tate, Africa, and the Future of Black Studies

Arts 315 Peter Gelling seminar room, Hybrid Event, Zoom
Friday 10 May 2024 (15:00-17:00)
book cover

In her new book, Merze Tate:  the Global Odyssey of Black Woman Scholar, Professor Barbara Savage (University of Pennsylvania) uncovers the life and work of a prolific diplomatic historian at Howard University in Washington, DC from 1942-1977. 

Despite living in what Tate called a “race and sex discriminating” world, she earned graduate degrees from Oxford (international relations, 1935) and Harvard (government, 1941).  She spent a year in India in 1950-51 as a Fulbright scholar, traveled in Asia and the Pacific, and published five groundbreaking books on arms limitations and on US imperialism in the Pacific.

This talk examines Tate’s final and unpublished work on Africa in the late 1970s.  She brought prescient attention to the growing US corporate presence there by focusing on new seaports and railroad construction, a network she called the “sinews and arteries of empire.”  Tate warned of international capital’s threat to post-independence Africa.  Savage will conclude by raising questions about another consequence of globalization:  increased African immigration to the US (post-1970s) and to the UK and how  that  unsettles paradigms in African American Studies and Black British Studies.

Speaker biography

Professsor Barbara Savage is an historian and Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her earlier work includes two prize-winning books:  Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion (2009) which received the 2012 Grawemeyer Prize in Religion and Broadcasting Freedom:  Radio, War, and the Politics of Race, 1938-1948 (1999) which won the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Award for the best book in American history.