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Unexpected Frontiers of Black Internationalism: African Americans in Soviet Central Asia, 1930–1976 Open Access

Central Asia has long captured the imagination of Western travelers as an exotic and mysterious destination. After the region was incorporated into the Soviet Union, it became a centerpiece of the Soviet modernization campaign. African Americans in particular were greatly interested in Soviet Central Asia and what they perceived as an alternative to Western imperialism and American racial segregation. This article explores how Soviet Central Asia appeared to African Americans who traveled, worked, and lived in the region in the 1930s and compares these impressions with those of African American tourists who visited the region three decades later. Did African American engagement with Central Asia act as an emancipatory, creative force for interracial solidarity or did it constitute another form of Orientalist discourse?

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