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Semester 1

The Francophone Black Radical Tradition (ELCF10083)


European Languages and Cultures - French





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In order to be eligible to take 4th Year Options, Visiting Students should have the equivalent of at least two years of study at University level of the appropriate language(s) and culture(s).

Course Summary

This course engages with a history of Black radical ideas, which opposed slavery, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism in the French-speaking world. Starting from the intellectual consequences of the Haitian revolution, it follows the development of a global African revolutionary sensibility, expressing itself by political, philosophical, and poetic means simultaneously.

Course Description

African American political theorist Cedric Robinson coined the historiographic notion of the Black Radical Tradition in his 1983 book entitled Black Marxism. The concept designates the historically specific and culturally distinctive ways African-descended peoples opposed racism, capitalism, and dehumanization at large throughout modern era. Despite his deep interests in slave rebellions in South America and the Caribbean, as well as his fascination for the Haitian Revolution, Robinson considers that it is only in the 20th century and under the influence of European Marxism that the black radical tradition stopped being an underground and informal shared African worldview to become an actual movement of thought. To prove his point, he refers to three Anglophone Black towering figures: W.E.B Du Bois, Richard Wright, and C.L.R. James. The first object of this course will be to offer an overview of the debates surrounding the definition of the Black radical tradition. Second, it will put Robinson s historiography to the test, confronting the notion Black radicalism to the genealogy of Francophone Black thought. Early 19th Century Haitian writings from Toussaint Louverture, Louis Boisrond-Tonnerre or the Baron de Vastey tend to show that Black radical political thought is by no means a recent phenomenon. Intellectual moments such as 19th Century Haitian political thought and philosophy, the négritude movement, Haitian and West African Marxisms, and Panafricanism will be unpacked throughout the semester.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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