Free and French in the Caribbean

Free and French in the Caribbean

Toussaint Louverture, Aimé Césaire, and Narratives of Loyal Opposition
John Patrick Walsh
Distribution: World
Publication date: 3/22/2013
Format: paper 206 pages, 7 b&w illus.
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-00630-1
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In Free and French in the Caribbean, John Patrick 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 in the narratives of revolution and nationhood passed on to successive generations. By reexamining Louverture and Césaire in light of their multilayered narratives, the book offers a deeper understanding of the historical and contemporary phenomenon of “free and French” in the Caribbean.

Author Bio

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

"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." —

"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

"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

"[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." —H-Empire

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Table of Contents

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
Works Cited
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