OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

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OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 9 , No. 2

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.90-109
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2019
Received 14 Nov 2018 Revised 14 Dec 2018 Accepted 21 Dec 2018
DOI: https://doi.org/10.14431/omnes.2019.01.9.1.90

“Dwelling-in-Travel”: The Politics of Space and Culture in Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem
Mario Laarmann
Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany


Abstract

Contemporary scholarship on Jamaican-born writer and poet Claude McKay, an influential figure of the Harlem Renaissance, seems to be unanimous in approaching his work through a lens of inter- or transnationalism. Thereby, mainly two aspects are often emphasized: First, his traveler’s life which he has documented in his autobiography A Long Way from Home, and second his political position, traceable in both his fictional and his non-fictional publications. This essay explores a third aspect of McKay’s transnationalism: his politics of culture and identity. Assuming that experiences and practices of groundedness and movement go along with an understanding of the self, I analyze McKay’s 1928 novel Home to Harlem and argue that the built-in paradox James Clifford calls “dwelling-in-travel” is not only evident in the novel’s politics of space, but can also be traced in its politics of gender relations and his representation of race.


Keywords: Claude McKay, Home to Harlem, transnationalism, space, gender, black diaspora, Harlem Renaissance

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Biographical Note

Mario Laarmann holds a B.A. and an M.Ed. from the University of Cologne, Germany, where he studied English and French philology. His focus is on literature, media, and cultural studies. He has also been studying for one year at the University of Reunion Island, for one semester at Monash University, Melbourne, and has spent one semester as an international student researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in French and Francophone Studies at Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, and preparing for a Ph.D. in comparative Caribbean literature with a focus on Earl Lovelace and Patrick Chamoiseau. E-mail: (Mario.Laarmann@t-online.de)