Candidate for the PhD in French
« LE PEUPLE INDIGNÉ SE LÈVE À SON TOUR ! »
LES MOUVEMENTS SOCIO-POLITIQUES DES GUADELOUPÉEN·E·S AU TOURNANT DU XXe SIÈCLE.
“OUTRAGED PEOPLE RISE UP!”
GUADELOUPEANS’ SOCIO-POLITICAL MOVEMENTS AT THE TURN OF THE 20th CENTURY.
All are welcome to attend!
Jennifer Boittin (Chair & Dissertation Advisor, Associate Professor of French, Francophone Studies, History, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies)
Fabienne Kanor (Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies)
Emmanuel Bruno Jean-François (Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, and Comparative Literature)
Burleigh Hendrickson (Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies)
Robert Bernasconi (Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies)
Jacqueline Couti (Laurence H. Favrot Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Rice University)
In my dissertation, I highlight remnants of slavery within the political practices of the Guadeloupean workers’ movement at the turn of the twentieth century. While this period remains understudied, I see it as a key moment in the political history of Guadeloupe and France. This was when Black Guadeloupeans joined the political realm under the banner of a radical political ideology—socialism—and rose to power within a decade. This socialist experiment came to an end in 1914, after a decade marked by political violence, corruption, and massive strikes by sugar cane workers. These two decades profoundly impacted the political reality of the colony through the growing involvement of Black Guadeloupeans in politics, both as elected officials and voters. I argue that Guadeloupean socialists anchored their action into what I call popular political practices (pratiques politiques populaires). These practices are spontaneous actions born out of indignation and often undertaken by women that take place within a public space and whose main goal is to contest specific inequities. However, they gradually rejected this filiation, instead aiming for cultural assimilation. Thus, this dissertation investigates the practices of citizenship in a post-slavery and colonial space.
My dissertation adds to our understanding of the different ways politics can be practiced in a post-slavery space. Indeed, Guadeloupean socialists often used both socialist and republican ideologies together to highlight the deep inequalities that prevailed for descendants of enslaved men and women. Yet because they partially anchored their political practices in practices of refusal that already existed during slavery, socialists often appeared to their political opponents and the colonial administration as threats to the colony’s order. By focusing on the politics of a peripheral space, such as Guadeloupe, my research highlights the fragilities of a French republicanism that has yet to fully come to terms with its colonial roots.