By Catherine Reinhardt
Why do the folk of the French Caribbean nonetheless remain haunted through the reminiscence in their slave earlier a couple of hundred and fifty years after the abolition of slavery? What strategy ended in the divorce in their collective reminiscence of slavery and emancipation from France's portrayal of those old phenomena? How are Martinicans and Guadeloupeans this present day reworking the silences of the prior into historic and cultural manifestations rooted within the Caribbean? This e-book solutions those questions through referring to the 1998 controversy surrounding the a hundred and fiftieth anniversary of France's abolition of slavery to the interval of the slave regime spanning the past due Enlightenment and the French Revolution. via evaluating a range of documents-including letters by way of slaves, loose humans of colour, and planters, in addition to writings by means of the philosophes, royal decrees, and court docket cases-the writer untangles the advanced forces of the slave regime that experience formed collective reminiscence. the present nationalization of the reminiscence of slavery in France has grew to become those as soon as peripheral claims into passionate political and cultural debates.
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Additional resources for Claims to Memory: Beyond Slavery and Emancipation in the French Caribbean (Polygons)
D. Robinet and Rousselot de Surgy. Nourishing this belief, Lamiral, a former French official in Senegal, claimed that black women had sexual intercourse with nonhuman primates (Cohen 1980: 86–89). The Africans’ outward appearance, very displeasing to Europeans, also proved fertile ground for racial prejudice. In vogue in eighteenth-century France, thanks to the work of the Swiss physiognomist Caspar Lavater, the doctrine of physiognomies gave an apparently scientific foundation to the belief that the blacks’ physical characteristics, in particular their skin color, symbolized their depravity.
Together, they brought the question of freedom to the forefront of political thought at the turn of the century. The juxtaposition of multiple voices reveals the central role played by slaves in the eventual destruction of the slave regime. Interpreting the discourses and actions that affected them, slaves forcefully projected their vision of freedom through writings and revolts; their influence on the course of events in the Caribbean made change inevitable. Chapter 4 is a study of the transformations that the politically and socially oppressed free coloreds experienced as a Introduction: Memories of Slavery 19 result of their new status as French citizens.
This passage illustrates the profoundly ambiguous attitude toward slavery during the Enlightenment. Although the philosophes stood for the principle of liberty, a closer scrutiny of their narrative reveals the limited applicability of this maxim. While it was against a citizen’s right to be enslaved, those who were already slaves and could lay no claims to citizenship did not benefit from this natural right (Ménil 2000). Since some form of servitude was an element of cultural practices in certain West African societies, Euro- 38 Catherine Reinhardt peans readily appeased the moral qualms the slave trade might have awakened in them.
Claims to Memory: Beyond Slavery and Emancipation in the French Caribbean (Polygons) by Catherine Reinhardt