Michael A. Gomez’s Reversing Sail is a provocative and challenging survey text that introduces students to the study of the African diaspora.

One way to think of diaspora is to consider the related term “dispersion” to think about the politics, cultural productions, social formations, longings, and questions that people face when they are apart (and yet always connected) to a home. In the diaspora studies, the story of Israel and the Jewish people who claim–from the corners of the world– its land as home is often seen as the paradigm. But diaspora is used to describe a range of groups.

Gomez challenges us to think about the notion of the African Diaspora in terms of stories (p.2), common elements (p.3), watershed moments, and socio-historical phases.

As we begin our study, I want you to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the common experiences that might be said to unify black communities (p.3)?
  2. What are the three movements or phases that comprise the African diaspora for Gomez (p.3-4)?

If you’re interested, below is Gomez speaking about Reversing Sail (feel free to skip around with the time markers in YouTube). This is a video worth coming back to as we progress through the semester.

Webinar featuring Michael A. Gomez, discussing Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora, Second Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2020).