Critical work on Glissant often divides his writing into two periods: before and after the publication of Le Discours antillais in 1981. In the first he focuses mainly on Martinique and its social, political and cultural problems, while the second broadens out, via the concept of the `Tout-monde', to the postcolonial world as a whole; and this second period coincides with his becoming a much better known figure, particularly in the United States. As an illustration of Glissant's influence beyond the francophone Caribbean, I compare the analyses of his trajectory given by Chris Bongie (Islands and Exiles, 1998) and Peter Hallward (Absolutely Postcolonial: Writing between the Singular and the Specific, 2002), and argue that, contrary to their assumption that `late' Glissant has abandoned political commitment, the later texts explore the possibilities of new kinds of political action that will be effective in the era of globalization.
Celia M. Britton is professor of French and francophone literature at University College London and a Fellow of the British Academy. She has published widely on French Caribbean literature and thought, particularly on the work of Edouard Glissant. Her books include Edouard Glissant and Postcolonial Theory: Strategies of Language and Resistance (1999); Race and the Unconscious: Freudianism in French Caribbean Thought(2002); and The Sense of Community in French Caribbean Fiction (2008). She has also coedited an issue of Paragraph titled “Francophone Texts and Postcolonial Theory” (2001) and edited “France’s Colonies and the Second World War” (2007), a special issue of L’Esprit Créateur.
The Martinican philosopher, psychiatrist, and social revolutionary Frantz Fanon is considered one of the pioneering figures of postcolonial studies. As an icon of postcolonialism, an increasingly institutionalized field, Fanon has thus come to be associated with what is primarily an anglophone critical enterprise and area of study. The resulting “anglicization” of this important francophone figure overlooks, I argue, the ways in which Fanon's Martinican and francophone background is integral to his intellectual and political contributions and to his influence on later generations of writers and political figures. Most notably, I will show the ways in which his legacy can be traced in the work of the contemporary Caribbean philosopher and poet Edouard Glissant, whose brand of transnationalism in Le discours antillais develops the ramifications of Fanon's thought in a way that has been obscured by anglophone criticism. This lacuna, I argue, is partly due to the unavailability of an unabridged translation in English of Glissant's Discours as well as to the failure of Fanonian critics to account for his grounding in a specifically francophone Caribbean setting and culture.
Carine Mardorossian is an associate professor of English at the University at Buffalo. She teaches and writes on feminist studies and postcolonial literature, especially in relation to the Caribbean, and is the author of Reclaiming Difference: Caribbean Women Rewrite Postcolonialism (2005).
“Memory” has become one of the buzzwords of contemporary historiography. Sparked by the atrocities of the Holocaust and intimately bound up with the concept of trauma, memory studies has gained increasing prominence in many intellectual circles and is particularly useful when considering postcolonial issues. A number of key commemorative dates over the past two decades have set the scene for a re-visioning of French and francophone history - 1992 was the 500thanniversary of the new world's “discovery” by Christopher Columbus, 1998 was the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, 2004 was the 200thanniversary of the Haitian Declaration of Independence and 2006 marked 60 years since Martinique and Guadeloupe became part of metropolitan France as overseas departments. French Caribbean writers have been vital to the public activities associated with remembrance of slavery and yet their work has been little studied in the anglophone world. This article focuses on Martinican intellectual Edouard Glissant's contribution to memory studies through his combined role as theoretician (in works such as his 2007 publication Mémoires des esclavages) and practician (in his role establishing a national memorial centre in Paris). While many critics have focused on Glissant's influence on postcolonial studies, this article assesses his importance in the burgeoning field of cultural memory.
Bonnie Thomas is an associate professor in French studies at the University of Western Australia. She has published numerous articles on contemporary French Caribbean literature and also publishes in the area of teaching and learning. She is the author of Breadfruit or Chestnut: Gender Construction in the French Caribbean Novel (2006) and is currently working on a monograph on memory and French Caribbean autobiography.
This essay sheds light on family relations in Octavia Butler's fantasy neo-slave narrative Kindred (1979) through Édouard Glissant's theories of kinship and Relation. This comparative gesture thus relate Glissant's Caribbean texts to an unlikely kin, a Californian African American science-fiction writer, preoccupied with the hybridity of the android and the androgynous, with femininity and reproduction, and with dystopian worlds. Glissant and Butler do not refer to each other's works. Their kinship lies instead in their common realization that the postslavery family is a brutal yet inescapable enmeshment of blackness and whiteness within the Plantation walls.
Valérie Loichot is an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of French and Italian at Emory University, Atlanta, where she teaches twentieth- and twenty-first-century French and francophone literature and culture, Caribbean literature, and postcolonial theory. She is the author of Orphan Narratives: The Postplantation Literatures of Faulkner, Glissant, Morrison, and Saint-John Perse (2007). She has also published essays on Caribbean literature and culture, Southern literature, creolization theory, transatlantic studies, feminism and exile, and food studies, in Callaloo, Etudes francophones, Francographies, French CulturalStudies, French Review, International Journal of Francophone Studies, Journal of Caribbean Literatures, Mississippi Quarterly, Meridians, Mots pluriels, La revue Frontenac, and La revue française. She is currently completing a book manuscript on the poetics and politics of consumption in Caribbean literature.
La voix de la romancière haïtienne Marie Vieux-Chauvet, réduite au silence pendant des années, se fait aujourd'hui entendre sur la scène théâtrale internationale grâce à l'adaptation de la trilogie Amour Colère et Folie offerte par le dramaturge franco-béninois José Pliya en 2007. Cet article analyse les différentes étapes du voyage du premier volet Amour à travers le temps et l'espace (d'Haïti à l'Amérique du nord en passant par les Antilles françaises, Paris, et même l'Afrique, d'où est originaire Pliya) ainsi qu'à travers les genres (le passage du roman au théâtre, du dialogue et du récit au monologue, de l'écriture à la mise en voix et en mouvement par la mise en scène hybride de Vincent Goethals qui explore les frontières mouvantes entres les arts.)
Stéphanie Bérard is assistant professor in the Department of French Language and Literature at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Her research deals with francophone and creolo-phone Caribbean theater from Guadeloupe and Martinique. She is the author of Théâtres des Antilles: Traditions et scènes contemporaines (2009), and has published articles on the history of Caribbean theater, on the use of Creole and French, on oral tradition, on drum music and dance (gwoka), on the integration of rituals (carnival, Vodou) in Caribbean theater, and on Haitian cinema and literature. She is currently co-editing a special issue of the journal Africultures on contemporary Caribbean theater and the National Theater l’Artchipel in Guadeloupe.
This article shows how Patrick Chamoiseau's struggle against neocolonial forms of domination of Martinique is remarkably similar to French Regionalism, a movement fighting for political and cultural autonomy of the French Provinces in the early XXth Century. Given the fate of French Regionalism which did not to secure political autonomy of the Provinces and became a mere illustration of their cultural and literary diversity, the failure of the Chamoiseau's campaign to preserve and liberate the martiniquan imaginary is almost inevitable. Ultimately, instead of asserting an national identity and inserting Martinique more fully within the Caribbean Region, the literary strategies of Chamoiseau reinforce ties with France.
Stella Vincenot was born in Guadeloupe and earned her BA and MA in philosophy at the University of Montpellier, France. She is completing her PhD at the Institute of French Studies and the Department of French at New York University, where her dissertation focuses on political rituals in postabolition French Caribbean colonies.
In an interview which took place in the Maison Française, Oxford, on 10 May 2008, the day instituted by the Chirac government to commemorate the crime of slavery, Patrick Chamoiseau discusses his attempts to raise consciousness of slavery among young Antilleans. He reflects on his relationship with a number of Caribbean writers, including Edouard Glissant, Derek Walcott and the recently-deceased Aimé Césaire. Working out of a number of familiar theoretical concepts (`créolité', `relation'), he articulates his vision of `mondialité', a global dynamic according to which the peoples of the world are in constant connectedness to each other, capitalism being only the crudest example of this reality. Finally Chamoiseau queries the extent to which the term `postcolonial' can be a useful one for formerly colonised peoples, given the risk that it might sanctify or give undue prominence to the colonial experience.
Maeve McCusker is senior lecturer in French studies at Queen’s University, Belfast, where she is codirector of the interdisciplinary Postcolonial Research Forum. She has published widely on Caribbean writing in French. Her monograph Patrick Chamoiseau: Recovering Memory (2007) and her current research focus on early writing from the Antilles. Her scholarly edition of one of the first novels from the francophone Caribbean, Louis de Maynard’s Outre-mer (1835), will appear in L’Harmattan’s series Autrement mêmes in 2010.
Alex Burke was born in Martinique and now lives and works in Paris. Most recently his work has been shown at the Tenth Havana Biennial (2009) and in the exhibitions “Kréyol Factory,” La Villette, Paris (2009); “Atlantide Caraïbes,” Martinique (2008); and “Infinite Island,” Brooklyn Museum, New York (2007).
Valérie John studied plastic arts at the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. Her work thematizes questions of place, wandering, and displacement. She has exhibited in France, the United States, Canada, Martinique, and in the wider Caribbean. She is currently academic delegate for arts and culture at the Academy of Martinique and member of the International Association of Art Critics, South Section (AICA-SC).
The titles of the exhibitions and works of visual artists from the Francophone Caribbean often underline the extent to which the theme of memory remains at the heart of their work. This problematic is broken down into three branches. The feeling of an irremediable loss provokes resistance to amnesia and the willful reconstitution of an occulted past. Their works, like those of other, non-Francophone artists from the Caribbean or from the diaspora place “identity in the interstices,” stigmatize the caricatured representation of blacks, are frequently founded on historical documents, and propose a reading of the slave societies of the Caribbean. Does the unity of Caribbean art not reside in its critical function, in this contemporary look towards a shared memory that until now has been lost, hidden, denied, and unacknowledged?
Dominique Brebion has been a consultant on visual art at the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles de Martinique (Ministry of Culture) since 1987. She holds a degree from the Ecole supérieure de journalisme (Paris) and did her doctoral studies on Aimé Césaire and Wifredo Lam. She organized Martinique’s participation in the São Paolo Biennial in 1994 and 1996, in the National Black Art Festival in Atlanta in 1996, and in numerous Caribbean exhibitions, including “Carib Art,” Netherlands Antilles (1992); “Carivista,” Barbados (1998); and “Migration in the Caribbean Diaspora,” University of Central Florida (2001). She has coordinated residencies in Martinique for artists such as Georges Rousse, François Bouillon, Alan Sonfist, Nils Udo, and Jean Clareboudt. She is a jury member for many inter-Caribbean biennials, and is a founding member of the southern Caribbean section of the Association internationale des critiques d’art (AICA–SC), which she has chaired since 2007. She founded the journal Arthème in 1999.
Book discussion: Alex Dupuy, The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community, and Haiti; and Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment
A discussion of Alex Dupuy's The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community, and Haiti and Peter Hallward'sDamming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment.
Lyonel Trouillot is an essayist, journalist, and novelist living and working in Haiti, where he also teaches literature. One of Haiti’s foremost contemporary authors, he writes in Frenchand Kreyòl and has published nine novels to date, including Rue des pas perdus(1996), Les enfants des héros (2002), and Bicentenaire (2004).
The contemporaneous publication of Alex Dupuy's The Prophet and the Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Peter Hallward's Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment in 2007 marks a watershed in contemporary Haitian Studies. Together, these two critically engaged volumes extensively document the complex and contentious path of the post-Duvalier era in Haitian politics. These volumes together describe the invention of a post-authoritarian populist political sequence, one that after 1990 coalesced around the charismatic leadership of a previously unknown Roman Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The article contrasts the authors' fundamentally different understandings of democracy, one based on consensus and the just distribution of goods and benefits and the other invoking the participation of the excluded.
Nick Nesbitt is senior lecturer in French and modern thought at the University of Aberdeen. He is the author of Universal Emancipation: The Haitian Revolution and the Radical Enlightenment (2008) and Voicing Memory: History and Subjectivity in French Caribbean Literature (2003), editor of Toussaint Louverture: The Haitian Revolution (2008), and coeditor, with Brian Hulse, of Sounding the Virtual: Deleuze and Musicology(forthcoming).
This article analyzes the topic of dictatorship, political violence, and popular struggle in two recent works that treat the rise and fall of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide: Alex Dupuy's The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community, and Haiti and Peter Hallward's Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment. In discussing these works, I interrogate the extent to which traditional categories of liberal political analysis, democracy, national sovereignty, consensus, popular struggle, rule of law, as well as their putative opposites, dictatorship and terror< must be seen as situated categories, at best only relevant to the conditions of the United States and Europe, and, at worst, part of ideologies that justify the continued global economic and political dominance of the West. Taking Dupuy and Hallward1s books as two case studies, I show the ways that these authors1disagreements over Aristide1s relationship to violence and popular struggle are inseparable from the methods and categories that each applies to his subject.
Valerie Kaussen is an associate professor of French at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her research and teaching interests are in Haitian literature and culture and in French and francophone cinema, cultural studies, and literary theory. She is the author of Migrant Revolutions: Haitian Literature, US Imperialism, and Globalization (2008) and is currently working on a book-length project that puts into dialogue the social type of the Haitian chimè and the theme of the spectral in Atlantic studies.
This article analyzes the shifts in the balance of power between Aristide and the Haitian dominant and middle classes and the foreign powers (the United States, France, and Canada) during the two periods of Aristide's presidency (1991/1994-1996, and 2001-2004). In the first period, an energized popular movement led Aristide to power with significant support among progressive sectors of the middle class and signaled a potential realignment of forces that the Haitian bourgeoisie and its foreign backers believed threatened their interests. The coup d'état of September 1991 was the dominant class's response to that perceived threat. The article considers the role of Aristide's erratic behavior in justify the coup d'état that would have happened in any case. In the second period, the popular movement was divided and weak, the progressive middle class parties broke with him to form an alliance with the bourgeoisie and the foreign troika. The article assesses the role of corruption and violence by Aristide and his Lavalas Family party in his second overthrow.
Alex Dupuy is Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University, Middletown. He is the author of Haiti in the World Economy: Class, Race, and Underdevelopment since 1700 (1989), Haiti in the New World Order: The Limits of the Democratic Revolution (1997), and The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community, and Haiti (2007). He is currently writing a book on Thomas Jefferson and the Haitian Revolution.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was re-elected president of Haiti in 2000, with a massive parliamentary majority. My book Damming the Flood (2007) tried to explain how and why his government overthrown, several years later, in an internationally-sponsored coup-d'état. Novelist Lyonel Trouillot helped prepare the ground for this coup by deriding Aristide as a corrupt and brutal dictator with no popular support, and in his contribution to thisSmall Axe forum he dismisses Damming the Flood as racist and dishonest propaganda. My response to Trouillot aims to refute these accusations, and to demonstrate that Trouillot's apparent commitment to `formal democracy' is a contradiction in terms.
Peter Hallward teaches at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University, London. He is the author ofAbsolutely Postcolonial (2001), Badiou: A Subject to Truth (2003), Out of This World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation (2006), andDamming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment (2007).