Dark Waters: Shadow Narratives of U.S. Imperialism
I move through a Black land
where the future
glows eternal and green
but where the symbols for now
are bloody and unrelenting
—audre lorde, ‘‘conclusion’’
observing the new mobility of people, money, and ideas across the
globe, one commentator in the New York Times Book Review of 30 September
2002 envisioned ‘‘all of mankind in the same boat on the unsettled seas of a
new millennium,’’ subject to ‘‘the physical laws of markets and democracy that
have provided this vessel with buoyancy, while largely ignoring the struggle
going on over who controls the rudder and compass.’’≤ The review, not coinci-
dentally, was of Michael Mandelbaum’s account of the centrality of World
War I and the discussions at Versailles in establishing the terms of political
discussion in the twentieth century. Strikingly, of course, nowhere in this or
any other contemporary account of the geopolitical aftermath of World War I
is race specifically mobilized as a category for analyzing the attitude toward
colonial populations and territories in the postwar discussions.≥ No one trav-
els, as Du Bois did, through the worlds of color within and without the United
States that constituted colonial space at the turn of the twentieth century.
Tyler’s review serves as a useful parallel here in closing for his use of the
image of the ship of state, now to represent the movements of the world at
large. In this portrayal of a world on the unsettled seas of a new millennium,
we see the very questions of mobility versus sovereignty explored here but
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