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Black LandImperial Ethiopianism and African America$
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Nadia Nurhussein

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691190969

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691190969.001.0001

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Claude McKay and the Display of Aristocracy

Claude McKay and the Display of Aristocracy

(p.192) Chapter Eight Claude McKay and the Display of Aristocracy
Black Land

Nadia Nurhussein

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks into Claude McKay's “Amiable with Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem,” which was written during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. McKay's novel hinges upon the question of what it means to be an “authentic” Ethiopian imperial representative. It focuses on one of the novel's characters, Alamaya, who admits cagily that a signed letter from the emperor establishing his bona fides “was authentic but not genuine”; later, as part of a scheme to raise funds for the Ethiopian cause, Alamaya and his secret communist colleague “invent” an Ethiopian princess by costuming a local Harlem woman. But in fact, it was Professor Koazhy, a costumed figure modeled after Marcus Garvey, and not the meek visiting Ethiopian prince Alamaya, who proves to be the “authentic” Ethiopian prince. The chapter also explains how the existence of a centralized Ethiopian empire would challenge the viability of an imagined extra-imperial network of black internationalism.

Keywords:   Claude McKay, Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Ethiopian, imperial representative, Alamaya, Professor Koazhy, Marcus Garvey, black internationalism

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