Decolonising the Intellectual

Politics, Culture, and Humanism at the End of the French Empire

Jane Hiddleston

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ISBN: 9781781380321

Publication: June 2, 2014

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 33

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Francophone intellectuals writing in the lead-up to the decolonisation were faced with an impossible dilemma. How could they redefine their culture, and the ‘humanity’ they felt had been denied by the colonial project, in terms that did not replicate the French thinking by which they were formed? Figures such as Senghor, Césaire, Fanon, Amrouche, Feraoun and Kateb were all educated, indeed immersed, in French culture and language, yet they intervened forcefully in political debates surrounding decolonisation and sought to contribute to the reinvention of local cultures in a gesture of resistance to the ongoing French presence. Despite their pivotal role during this period of upheaval, then, their project was fraught with tensions that form the focus of this study. In particular, these writers reflected on the relation between universality and particularity in intellectual work, and struggled to avoid the traps associated with an over-investment in either domain. They also all learned from metropolitan French humanist thought but strove continually to reinvent that humanism so as to account for colonised experience and culture. Their work also readdresses the ongoing question of the relation between literature or culture and politics, and testifies to a moment of intense dialogue, and potential conflict, between contrasting but complementary spheres of activity.

Jane Hiddleston is a Lecturer and Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. She is also a Member of the executive committee of the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies, and editor of the accompanying journal.

Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Léopold Sédar Senghor: Politician and Poet between Hybridity and Solitude 2. Aimé Césaire: From Poetic Insurrection to Humanist Ethics 3. Frantz Fanon: Experiments in Collective Identity 4. Jean El-Mouhoub Amrouche: The Universal Intellectual? 5. Mouloud Feraoun: Postcolonial Realism, or, the Intellectual as Witness 6. Kateb Yacine: Poetry and Revolution Conclusion Bibliography Index

Each of  the chapters makes incisive contributions to the subfields of Negritude and Maghrebi studies, and would thus serve well in specialized graduate seminars. Taught as a book, it is suitable for both graduate courses on postcolonial theory and undergraduate francophone literature classes.
Olivia Harrison   French Studies Journal

An extremely erudite study of the vexed questions facing Francophone intellectuals in their response to colonial politics, ideas and culture and received ideas of the human. It is intellectually strong and very well written.
Max Silverman  
University of Leeds

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 x 163 mm

288 Pages

ISBN: 9781781380321

Publication: June 2, 2014

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 33

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