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CAW: African-Americans in the USSR

Tuesday, March 05, 2013
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
10367 Bunche Hall

Several high-profile visits to the Soviet Union made by African American artists, writers, and intellectuals in the 1930's will be discussed. The best-known of such visits was made by Harlem renaissance poet Langston Hughes. Hughes was particularly intrigued by Central Asia, which he described as the Soviet Union's  "dusty, colored, cotton-growing South." What parallels can be drawn between the Black experience in the United States and Central Asians' experiences of colonization and, later, Sovietization? How might Soviet ideologues' interpretation of race relations in the United States have figured into nationality policy in the USSR? Or Soviet attitudes about race in general? What was the agenda behind these unusual visits?


Ani Mukherji, "Like Another Planet:: Black Cultural Work in 1930's Moscow." In Africa and Europe: Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century, edited by Eve Rosenhaft and Robbie Aitken (2013) , pp. 120-141. 

David Chioni Moore, "Colored Dispatches From The Uzbek Border: Langston Hughes' Relevance, 1933-2002." Callaloo 25.4 (2002) 1115-1135  

Langston Hughes, "A Negro Looks at Soviet Central Asia." Series of articles originally written for Izvestiia.  Reprinted in The Collected Works of Langston Hughes v. 9,  edited by Christopher C. DeSanti (2002).  pp. 71-105. 


The Central Asia Workshop is an interdisciplinary discussion group sponsored by the UCLA Program on Central Asia. The goal of the workshop is to encourage graduate student research on Central Asia by creating a space where students and interested faculty can discuss research, theory and ideas with others who have experience or interest in the region. The workshop is a forum for exploring recent research and classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives that inform work in Central Asia. Weekly discussions are led by members on a rotating basis, and topics are determined by group interests.

Meetings will be held on scheduled Tuesdays 12:30-2:00 pm.

For information about joining the Central Asia Workshop, contact Hannah Reiss at

Sponsor(s): Program on Central Asia

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