Arise Africa, Roar China

Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century

By Yunxiang Gao

406 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 49 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6460-6
    Published: December 2021
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7925-9
    Published: February 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6461-3
    Published: December 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6163-4
    Published: December 2021

John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture

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Awards & distinctions

2022 Academic Excellence Award, Chinese Historians in the United States

Honorable Mention, 2022 Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

Shortlisted, 2022 Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, Canadian Historical Association

This book explores the close relationships between three of the most famous twentieth-century African Americans, W. E. B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, and Langston Hughes, and their little-known Chinese allies during World War II and the Cold War—journalist, musician, and Christian activist Liu Liangmo, and Sino-Caribbean dancer-choreographer Sylvia Si-lan Chen. Charting a new path in the study of Sino-American relations, Gao Yunxiang foregrounds African Americans, combining the study of Black internationalism and the experiences of Chinese Americans with a transpacific narrative and an understanding of the global remaking of China's modern popular culture and politics. Gao reveals earlier and more widespread interactions between Chinese and African American leftists than accounts of the familiar alliance between the Black radicals and the Maoist Chinese would have us believe. The book’s multilingual approach draws from massive yet rarely used archival streams in China and in Chinatowns and elsewhere in the United States. These materials allow Gao to retell the well-known stories of Du Bois, Robeson, and Hughes alongside the sagas of Liu and Chen in a work that will transform and redefine Afro-Asia studies.

About the Author

Gao Yunxiang is professor of history at Toronto Metropolitan University, and author of  Sporting Gender: Women Athletes and Celebrity-Making during China’s National Crisis, 1931-1945.
For more information about Yunxiang Gao, visit the Author Page.


A History Today 2022 Book of the Year|A Book Authority 2022 Best New African American History Book and Best Politics Ebook

"This tour-de-force of research connects the scholarship on Black internationalism, Chinese American studies, modern Chinese popular culture and politics, Black Diasporas, and transnational studies. . . . Arise, Africa! Roar, China! will surely stimulate more research on Sino-African diaspora history and the transnationality of modern Chinese history in the future."—Chinese Historical Review

"Ambitious in its scope and inspiring in its subject material. Gao’s provocative book demonstrates the importance of transpacific and translingual approaches in modern Chinese and African American history. It offers a new perspective on Sino-American relations through five compelling case studies that have rarely been examined side-by-side. . . . A pleasure to read and a layered work of scholarship that invites further rereading, revisiting, and reflection."—Modern Chinese Literature & Culture

"Gao is by any measure a talented and engaging writer who brings her fascinating subjects vividly to life. . . . Gao tells a good story, actually five, and tells them very well. That the stories and protagonists are all linked yields a book is far more than the sum of its parts."—Asian Review of Books

"A most impressive display of transnational research which furthers the important field of African American internationalism."—Peace & Change

"Profoundly impressed . . . and dazzled by the creative approach [Gao] took to documenting and contextualizing the many different kinds of connections that existed between W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Liu Liangmo, and Sylvia Silan Chen. . . . reveal[s] the potential of transnational history to tell enormous stories in exciting and revelatory ways. . . . truly excellent scholarship."—Sheyda Jahanbani, Chair of the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize Committee at SHAFR