The Race for America

Black Internationalism in the Age of Manifest Destiny

By R. J. Boutelle

The Race for America

Approx. 288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 halftones, 1 table

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7663-0
    Published: October 2023
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7662-3
    Published: October 2023

Paperback Available October 2023, but pre-order your copy today!

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As Manifest Destiny took hold in the national consciousness, what did it mean for African Americans who were excluded from its ambitions for an expanding American empire that would shepherd the Western Hemisphere into a new era of civilization and prosperity? R. J. Boutelle explores how Black intellectuals like Daniel Peterson, James McCune Smith, Mary Ann Shadd, Henry Bibb, and Martin Delany engaged this cultural mythology to theorize and practice Black internationalism. He uncovers how their strategies for challenging Manifest Destiny's white nationalist ideology and expansionist political agenda constituted a form of disidentification—a deconstructing and reassembling of this discourse that marshals Black experiences as racialized subjects to imagine novel geopolitical mythologies and projects to compete with Manifest Destiny.

Employing Black internationalist, hemispheric, and diasporic frameworks to examine the emigrationist and solidarity projects that African Americans proposed as alternatives to Manifest Destiny, Boutelle attends to sites integral to US aspirations of hemispheric dominion: Liberia, Nicaragua, Canada, and Cuba. In doing so, Boutelle offers a searing history of how internalized fantasies of American exceptionalism burdened the Black geopolitical imagination that encouraged settler-colonial and imperialist projects in the Americas and West Africa.

About the Author

R. J. Boutelle is assistant professor of English at the University of Cincinnati.

For more information about R. J. Boutelle, visit the Author Page.


"In this deeply researched book, R. J. Boutelle disentangles the complex literary history of Black transnationalism, offering new ways to understand debates around Blackness and US expansion and international relations. A compelling contribution to American hemispheric studies."—Gretchen Murphy, University of Texas at Austin