John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History: Africalogical Quest for Decolonization and Sovereignty by Ahati N.N. Toure

In the late 1960s through the late 1980s, the late John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998) was one of the foremost architects of the emerging discipline of Africana Studies/Africalogy as Professor of African World History in the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York and as the Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Visiting Professor of African History at Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center.

The study explores Clarke’s development and conceptualization of Afrikan World History by examining his intellectual influences and training, his approach to teaching Afrikan World History, his notions regarding Afrikan agency and Afrikan humanity, his explorations of themes of Pan Afrikanism and national sovereignty, his ideas concerning the relevance of Afrikan culture in historical perspective, and his legacy in Afrikan intellectualism and culture, including his contribution to the Afrocentric paradigm that is the core of the discipline of Africana Studies/Africalogy.

As an academician and intellectual, Clarke emerged as one of the leading theorists of Afrikan liberation and the uses of Afrikan history as a foundation and grounding for liberation. Under Clarke’s formulation liberation was defined not simply as freedom from European domination, but fundamentally as the restoration of Afrikan sovereignty. He explored history s utility in moving an oppressed and subordinated people from a position of subjugation on multiple levels to full status as a self-sustaining, self-defining, self-directed, free, and independent people on a global stage.

Further, the study examines the influence of indigenous Afrikan intellectualism in the United States in Afrikan cultural and intellectual history. Although a leader among European academy-trained Afrikan intellectuals who join the European academy largely beginning in the 1970s, Clarke’s education and training were the product of a movement for the indigenization of Afrikan academic intellectualism in Harlem of the 1930s that can be traced back to the early nineteenth century. It is the first extensive critical examination of Clarke as an exemplar of indigenous intellectualism in Afrikan culture in the United States.

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