Gradhiva n°19


"Black Atlantic" by Nancy Cunard Negro Anthology, 1931-1934 

March 2014

Negro anthology, in a similar way to a documentary inquiry, is a work of great formal and theoretical modernity. It was in 1931, the year of the Colonial Exhibition and the “affair” of the young black Americans from Scottsboro, that Nancy Cunard, born in England in 1896, and a symbol of the Anglo-Saxon and French avant-garde in the twenties, began to assemble this historic anthology. Composed of articles, archives, photographs, drawings, portraits, newspaper clippings, poems, music scores, testimonials and statistics, this work of eight hundred and fifty-five pages, includes two hundred and fifty-five articles and one hundred and fifty authors.

The contributors are militants, intellectuals, journalists, artists, poets, academics and anthropologists; African-Americans, Caribbeans, Africans, Malagasies, Latin-Americans, Americans, Europeans, women and men. Her collaborators included the following: Samuel Beckett, Georges Sadoul, Ezra Pound, Langston Hugues, Zora Neale Hurston, Georges Padmore, Alain Locke, Georges Lavachery, Jomo Kenyatta and Kenneth Macpherson. Nancy Cunard, poet, model, editor, collector, militant, journalist, symbolizes an era when artistic-literary avant-gardes and political commitment were intertwined. It is by visiting the great themes addressed in Negro Anthology that this issue of Gradhiva highlights the transnational artistic, literary and political networks woven by Nancy Cunard during the years from 1910-1930, which made this anthology a monument to the history of Black people.

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Special issue: "Black Atlantic" by Nancy Cunard Negro Anthology, 1931-1934

Coordinated by Sarah Frioux-Salgas

  • Introduction: "Black Atlantic" by Nancy Cunard Negro Anthology, 1931-1934, by Sarah Frioux-Salgas
  • Les militants noirs anglophones des années 1920 à 1940, by Amzat Boukari-Yabara
  • « Nothing too old, or too new for his use ». Anthropologie du lore noir chez Zora Neale Hurston, [Zora Neale Hurston’s anthropology of black lore] by Emmanuel Parent
  • L'inscription de la musique dans l'anthologie Negro, by Yannick Séité
  • Vers une image « authentique » de l’Afro-Américain ? [Towards an “authentic” image of the Afro-American?] Photographies, presse militante et documentaire social (1910-1940), [Photographs, militant press and social documentaries (1910-1940)] by Julie Jones
  • Paul Robeson et la représentation des Noirs dans le cinéma de l’entre-deux-guerres. Primitivisme et double conscience, [Primitivism and the dual conscience] by François Bovier


  • The Scottsboro Boys affair
  • Extract from the book by Vladimir Pozner Les États-Désunis (Paris, Denoël,1938), Montreal, Lux Éditeur, 2009, p.117-127.
  • Jacques Roumain and Nancy Cunard. Poem by Jacques Roumain dedicated to Nancy Cunard and a letter from Jacques Roumain to Nancy Cunard, commentary by Léon-François Hoffmann
  • Letters from Claude McKay to Nancy Cunard translated and presented by Anthony Mangeon


  • Contents of the Negro Anthology
  • Photographs from the personal collection of Nancy Cunard by Raoul Ubac, today at the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac
  • Hours Press éditions (1928-1931)


  • 224 pages (20x27 cm)
  • 90 illustrations
  • ISBN: 978-2-35744-073-9
  • €20