- Free and French in the Caribbean
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Free and French in the Caribbean
Toussaint Louverture, Aimé Césaire, and Narratives of Loyal Opposition
Published by: Indiana University Press
In Free and French in the Caribbean, John Walsh studies the writings of Toussaint Louverture and Aimé Césaire to examine how they conceived of and narrated two defining events in the decolonializing of the French Caribbean: the revolution that freed the French colony of Saint-Domingue in 1803 and the departmentalization of Martinique and other French colonies in 1946. Walsh emphasizes the connections between these events and the distinct legacies of emancipation that emerged through the narratives of revolution and nationhood passed on to successive generations. Part one concerns Toussaint's grasp of the limits of French Republicanism and his repositioning of the doctrine of the rights of man over against national sovereignty. Part two focuses on Césaire's reading of Toussaint as he confronted the issue of assimilation into the French Republic. By re-examining these figures in light of their multi-layered narratives, the book offers a deeper understanding of the historical and contemporary problem of "free and French" in the Caribbean.
I. Toussaint Louverture
1. Toussaint Louverture and the Family of Saint-Domingue
2. Under the Stick of Maître Toussaint
3. "Free and French": La Constitution de la colonie française de Saint-Domingue
4. Toussaint at a Crossroads: The Mémoire of the "First Soldier of the Republic of Saint Domingue"
II. Aimé Césaire
5. Césaire Reads Toussaint: The Haitian Revolution and the Problem of Departmentalization
6. Haitian Building: La Tragédie du Roi Christophe
Conclusion: Artisans of Free and French
John Patrick Walsh is Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
"A fruitful intervention in a growing body of literature and increasingly lively debate on the Haitian Revolution and the figure of Toussaint Louverture, the book also contributes to the emerging scholarship on Césaire, Francophone literature, and postcolonial theory. . . . Walsh reveals how these texts [by Louverture and Césaire] are structured, how they function, and what dynamics they contain—and what they have to show us about politics and history."~Gary Wilder, CUNY Graduate Center
"Contains all the ingredients to become the next important book in the field of postcolonial studies with the emphasis on French Caribbean culture and literature."~Daniel Desormeaux, University of Chicago
"[T]hat Free and French inspires so many questions is testament to its ambition, the provocative parallel at its heart, and the richness of Walsh's analysis. The book is another important reminder not only that the Haitian Revolution proved powerful inspiration for the rest of the Caribbean, even centuries later, but also that perhaps its most significant ideological victory was exposing a fundamental truth: the colonies could never be free while French.July 2015"~H-Empire
"J.P.Walsh has produced for the nonspecialist reader an excellent analysis of the historiographical discourse on Toussaint Louverture and Aimé Césaire with a focus on the meaning(s) of decolonization in the late eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries."~New West Indian Guide
"Walsh . . . has opened a fascinating and fruitful line of study, not only of the writings of these two leaders, but also of the ambiguous colonial and postcolonial relationship between the French Republic and the French Caribbean. . . . Highly recommended."~Choice
"Free and French in the Caribbean is . . . a valuable contribution to both the rapidly proliferating literature on the Haitian Revolution and the emerging revisionist appreciation of Césaire's intellectual and political project."~Small Axe
"[This] book . . . is a wealth of information for researchers looking for a way to connect the contributions of several contemporary scholars in the field of postcolonial studies. Students and scholars of French Caribbean studies will find Free and French an incredibly valuable addition to their libraries."~Journal of Haitian Studies