Dr Christian Høgsbjerg is a historian with research interests in Caribbean history, the black experience of the British Empire, the black presence in imperial Britain, and how race and empire impacted more broadly on modern British identity, politics, society and culture.
The main focus of his research concerns the Trinidadian Marxist and Pan-Africanist intellectual and activist C.L.R. James (1901-1989), a black writer, radical historian and political thinker who made a profound contribution to, among other areas, the making of modern multi-cultural, ‘post-colonial’ Britain.
He has completed a doctoral thesis, ‘C.L.R. James in Imperial Britain, 1932-38’, in the Department of History at the University of York (2009), and has since published widely on James and his related interests in a number of journals including Historical Materialism, History Workshop Journal, International Socialism, Race and Class, Revolutionary History, Small Axe, Socialist History and Twentieth Century British History. He is a member of the Black and Asian Studies Association, the Society for Caribbean Studies and the Socialist History Society, and a supporter of the C.L.R. James Legacy Project in London.
As a scholar concerned with the life and work of C.L.R. James I have worked in collaboration with Professor Robert A. Hill, the literary executor of the C.L.R. James Estate, to prepare a special edition of James’s previously thought long-lost 1934 play on the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint Louverture: The story of the only successful slave revolt in history, a copy of the playscript of which I uncovered in the course of my doctoral research.
James’s Toussaint Louverture stands as the literary companion volume to his masterful classic 1938 history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins. The play was published in Spring 2013 with Duke University Press, with a preface by Laurent Dubois, author of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution, and launched an important new ‘C.L.R. James Archives’ series. James’s Toussaint Louverture, which was staged in 1936 at London’s Westminster Theatre with Paul Robeson in the title role, was the first time black professional actors had starred on the British stage in a play written by a black playwright, and the only time Robeson starred in a play by a writer of African descent. The play stands as one of the most remarkable plays written about the Haitian Revolution, and the 1936 production was a pioneering moment in the rich but often hidden history of African theatre, Caribbean theatre and black theatre in Britain.
- Introduction to Marx and Marxism
- The Rise and Fall of Communism
- Twentieth Century Europe
- C.L.R. James in Imperial Britain (Duke University Press, 2014, forthcoming).
- (Co-editor, with Professor Charles Forsdick) The Black Jacobins Reader, (Duke University Press, c.2015, forthcoming).
- (Editor) Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History: A Play in Three Acts by C.L.R. James (Duke University Press, 2013).
- Mariner, Renegade and Castaway: Chris Braithwaite: Seamen’s Organiser, Socialist and Militant Pan-Africanist (Socialist History Society, 2013, forthcoming).
- ‘The “Black International” as social movement wave: CLR James’ History of Pan-African Revolt’, in Colin Barker, Laurence Cox, John Krinsky and Alf Nilsen (eds.) Marxism and Social Movements (Brill & Haymarket, 2013, forthcoming).
- ‘“We Lived According to the Tenets of Matthew Arnold”: Reflections on the “colonial Victorianism” of the young C.L.R. James’, Twentieth Century British History (2013, forthcoming).
- ‘C.L.R. James: Beyond Cricket’s Boundary’ in Michael Lavalette (ed.) Capitalism and Sport: Politics, Protest, People and Play (Bookmarks,
- ‘A “Bohemian freelancer”? C.L.R. James, his early relationship to anarchism and the intellectual origins of autonomism’, in Dave Berry, Ruth Kinna, Saku Pinta and Alex Prichard (eds.) Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
- ‘Mariner, Renegade, Castaway: Chris Braithwaite, seamen’s organiser and Pan-Africanist’, Race & Class, 53, 2 (October, 2011).
- ‘“A Thorn in the Side of Great Britain”: C.L.R. James and the Caribbean Labour Rebellions of the 1930s’, Small Axe, 35 (July, 2011).
- ‘Brian Pearce (1915-2008)’, History Workshop Journal, 69 (Spring, 2010).
- ‘C.L.R. James and the Black Jacobins’, International Socialism, 126 (2010).