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Annette Joseph-Gabriel. Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire
2019, University of Illinois Press
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Publisher’s Note: Black women living in the French empire played a key role in the decolonial movements of the mid-twentieth century. Thinkers and activists, these women lived lives of commitment and risk that landed them in war zones and concentration camps and saw them declared enemies of the state. Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel mines published writings and untapped archives to reveal the anticolonialist endeavors of seven women. Though often overlooked today, Suzanne Césaire, Paulette Nardal, Eugénie Éboué-Tell, Jane Vialle, Andrée Blouin, Aoua Kéita, and Eslanda Robeson took part in a forceful transnational movement. Their activism and thought challenged France's imperial system by shaping forms of citizenship that encouraged multiple cultural and racial identities. Expanding the possibilities of belonging beyond national and even Francophone borders, these women imagined new pan-African and pan-Caribbean identities informed by black feminist intellectual frameworks and practices. The visions they articulated also shifted the idea of citizenship itself, replacing a single form of collective identity and political participation with an expansive plurality of forms of belonging.

Comment: Useful for discussing concepts of citizenship and belonging in the decolonial movements of the mid-twentieth century. Prior knowledge of these themes is required for an in-depth discussion of the book. However individual chapters can constitute a good starting point for questions of gender, race, and postcolonialism without prior advanced knowledge.

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Annette Joseph-Gabriel. Suzanne Césaire: Liberation beyond the Great Camouflage
2020, University of Illinois Press
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Abstract: Suzanne Césaire's essays in Tropiques make an important intervention in imagining a new Martinican and ultimately Pan-Caribbean identity during World War II. This study examines Césaire's joint politics and poetics of liberation in the context of dissidence in Martinique. A close reading of her essays alongside previously uncited personal correspondence reveals Haiti to be central to her vision for a Caribbean cultural renaissance after the death and destruction of the war.

Comment: Useful for discussions on belonging, citizenship, and nation-building, and expanding knowledge of Suzanne Césaire. Prior knowledge of key concepts of political history is needed, as well as some knowledge of French decolonization. Can be used to expand knowledge of French education in the former colonies.

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Celeste Day Moore. Soundscapes of Liberation. African American Music in Postwar France
2021, Duke University Press
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Publisher’s Note: In Soundscapes of Liberation, Celeste Day Moore traces the popularization of African American music in postwar France, where it signaled new forms of power and protest. Moore surveys a wide range of musical genres, soundscapes, and media: the US military's wartime records and radio programs; the French record industry's catalogs of blues, jazz, and R&B recordings; the translations of jazz memoirs; a provincial choir specializing in spirituals; and US State Department-produced radio programs that broadcast jazz and gospel across the French empire. In each of these contexts, individual intermediaries such as educators, producers, writers, and radio deejays imbued African American music with new meaning, value, and political power. Their work resonated among diverse Francophone audiences and transformed the lives and labor of many African American musicians, who found financial and personal success as well as discrimination in France. By showing how the popularity of African American music was intertwined with contemporary structures of racism and imperialism, Moore demonstrates this music's centrality to postwar France and the convergence of decolonization, the expanding globalized economy, the Cold War, and worldwide liberation movements.

Comment: Useful for students of history interested in sound production and its relation to Black Internationalism. Can be used as an introduction into new methods and sources. Prior knowledge of Black Internationalism is recommended but not essential if the focus is on methods.

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Jennifer Anne Boittin. Colonial Metropolis: The Urban Grounds of Anti-Imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris
2010, University of Nebraska Press
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Publisher’s Note: World War I gave colonial migrants and French women unprecedented access to the workplaces and nightlife of Paris. After the war they were expected to return without protest to their homes—either overseas or metropolitan. Neither group, however, was willing to be discarded. Between the world wars, the mesmerizing capital of France’s colonial empire attracted denizens from Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. Paris became not merely their home but also a site for political engagement. Colonial Metropolis tells the story of the interactions and connections of these black colonial migrants and white feminists in the social, cultural, and political world of interwar Paris. It explores why and how both were denied certain rights, such as the vote, how they suffered from sensationalist depictions in popular culture, and how they pursued parity in ways that were often interpreted as politically subversive.

Comment: This book uses a wide variety of sources and methods to discuss the social, political, and cultural history of the French Empire. Prior but limited knowledge of interwar Paris is necessary. Can be used as both an introduction to themes of colonial empire and race and an introduction to new methods of archival research.

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