Critical Perspectives on Empire: To Be Free and French  : Citizenship in France's Atlantic Empire

Critical Perspectives on Empire: To Be Free and French : Citizenship in France's Atlantic Empire

By: Lorelle Semley (author)Hardback

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The Haitian Revolution may have galvanized subjects of French empire in the Americas and Africa struggling to define freedom and 'Frenchness' for themselves, but Lorelle Semley reveals that this event was just one moment in a longer struggle of women and men of color for rights under the French colonial regime. Through political activism ranging from armed struggle to literary expression, these colonial subjects challenged and exploited promises in French Republican rhetoric that should have contradicted the continued use of slavery in the Americas and the introduction of exploitative labor in the colonization of Africa. They defined an alternative French citizenship, which recognized difference, particularly race, as part of a 'universal' French identity. Spanning Atlantic port cities in Haiti, Senegal, Martinique, Benin, and France, this book is a major contribution to scholarship on citizenship, race, empire, and gender, and it sheds new light on debates around human rights and immigration in contemporary France.

About Author

Lorelle Semley is an Associate Professor of History at the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts, where she teaches courses in African history, the African diaspora, and gender studies. Her research has been facilitated by fellowships at the John Carter Brown Library, the W. E. B. Dubois Research Institute, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Research grants have supported travel to Benin, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Martinique, and Senegal. Previous works include Mother Is Gold, Father Is Glass: Gender and Colonialism in a Yoruba Town (2010) and articles for Law and History Review, Radical History Review, and Gender and History.


List of figures; List of maps; List of tables; Preface: coincidental crossings; Acknowledgments; Part I. Revolutionary Foundations: Prologue: citizens of the world; 1. To live and die, free and French; 2. Signares before citizens; Part II. Colonial Constructions: 3. When Blacks broke the chains in the 'Little Paris of the Antilles'; 4. The trans-African origins of Porto-Novo; 5. An 'evolution revolution' in Paris; Part III. Planning after Empire: 6. A more perfect French Union; Epilogue: the art of citizenship; Bibliography; Index.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107101142
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 382
  • ID: 9781107101142
  • weight: 660
  • ISBN10: 110710114X

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