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AfromodernismsParis, Harlem and the Avant-Garde$
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Fionnghuala Sweeney and Kate Marsh

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748646401

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748646401.001.0001

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‘Thinking in hieroglyphics’

‘Thinking in hieroglyphics’

Representations of Egypt in the New Negro Renaissance

(p.204) Chapter 9 ‘Thinking in hieroglyphics’

Rachel Farebrother

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that that ancient Egypt became an important trope for imagining African American cultural identity and history in the early twentieth century — a means by which to intervene in contemporary debates on such issues as colonialism, leadership, and nation-building. It also shows that a vindicationist narrative of ancient cultural splendour, which is to be found in popular revisionist histories such as J. A. Rogers's From ‘Superman’ to Man (1917) and 100 Amazing Facts about the Negro with Complete Proof (1934), is often disrupted by the spectre of modernity, as shadowed forth by a marginal yet significant modern Egyptian figure who symbolises the limits of cross-cultural understanding among ‘the darker races of the world’.

Keywords:   ancient Egypt, African American cultural identity, history, modernity

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