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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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Langston Hughes’s Business Suit

(p.209) Conclusion
Black Land

Nadia Nurhussein

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on Langston Hughes's dedicatory poem to Haile Selassie, which expresses the existence of a centralized Ethiopian empire that would actually challenge the viability of an imagined extra-imperial network of black internationalism by the 1960s. The poem expresses not only an awestruck veneration but the familiar bafflement regarding the seeming dissonance between modernity and antiquity, between the modern business suit and the archaic scroll. Imperial events such as the business suit only serve to exaggerate the apparent disjuncture between the modern and the ancient, as Addison E. Southard said of the coronation decades. Representatives gathered from all corners of the country for the occasion results in the spectacle of “modern civilization cheek by jowl with medievalism.” The allegorical significance of the business suit illustrates imperial Ethiopia's impulse to Westernize in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Keywords:   Langston Hughes, Haile Selassie, Ethiopian empire, black internationalism, Addison E. Southard, business suit, modern civilization, medievalism, imperial Ethiopia

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