Cyril Lionel Robert James (4 January 1901 – 19 May 1989), best known as C. L. R. James, who sometimes wrote under the pen-name J. R. Johnson, was an Afro-Trinidadian historian, journalist, socialist theorist and essayist. His works are influential in various theoretical, social, and historiographical contexts. His work is a staple of subaltern studies, and he figures as a pioneering and influential voice in postcolonial literature. His work is often associated with Caribbean and Afro-nationalism, though James himself contended that the "either-or" was a false dichotomy, and that Caribbean peoples were indebted to European as much as African cultural traditions.
A tireless political activist, James's writing on the Communist International stirred debate in Trotskyist circles, and his history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, is a seminal text in the literature of the African Diaspora. Characterized by one literary critic as an "anti-Stalinist dialectician", James was known for his autodidactism, for his occasional playwriting and fiction, and as an avid sportsman. He is also famed as a writer on cricket. More
C.L.R. James died in May 1989. His death coincided with the explosion of popular forces across China and eastern Europe which shook some of the most oppressive political regimes in human history.
These momentous events, calling into question the structure of the modern world order, throw into sharp relief the life and work of one of this century’s most outstanding figures. For James was pre-eminently a man of the twentieth century. His legacy reflects the scope and diversity of his life’s work, the unique conditions of particular times and places; and yet at its core lies a vision of humanity which is universal and integrated, progressive and profound. More