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Writing the Radio WarLiterature, Politics and the BBC, 1939-1945$
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Ian Whittington

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474413596

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413596.001.0001

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Calling the West Indies: Una Marson’s Wireless Black Atlantic

Calling the West Indies: Una Marson’s Wireless Black Atlantic

(p.153) Chapter 5 Calling the West Indies: Una Marson’s Wireless Black Atlantic
Writing the Radio War

Ian Whittington

Edinburgh University Press

As a colonial subject and woman of colour, Una Marson occupies a unique place in the history of wartime broadcasting in Britain. Her weekly programCalling the West Indies began as a “message home” program for Caribbean soldiers stationed in the UK but grew, as the war progressed, into a literary and cultural forum for writers from across the Black Atlantic. Though barred from advocating openly for independence, Marson used her program to promote West Indian cultural autonomy by spotlighting emerging Caribbean literary figures and forging connections with activists and intellectuals from the U.S., Britain, Africa, and elsewhere. Beyond building such transatlantic networks, Calling the West Indies afforded listeners in the Caribbean the first opportunities to hear literature spoken in the West Indian forms of English which Edward Kamau Brathwaite would go on to call “nation language.” By focusing on Marson’s wartime work, this chapter rectifies a persistent tendency, in histories of Caribbean literature and broadcasting, to omit not only the central role played by this progressive feminist intellectual, but also the role of the war itself as catalyst to the postwar literary renaissance in the West Indies.

Keywords:   Marson, Una, Caribbean Literature, West Indies, Jamaica, Black Atlantic, British Empire, Anancy Stories, BBC Overseas Service

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