Discourse on Colonialism

Discourse on Colonialism

Discourse on Colonialism

Discourse on Colonialism

Synopsis

"Césaire's essay stands as an important document in the development of third world consciousness--a process in which [he] played a prominent role."
--Library Journal

This classic work, first published in France in 1955, profoundly influenced the generation of scholars and activists at the forefront of liberation struggles in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Nearly twenty years later, when published for the first time in English, Discourse on Colonialism inspired a new generation engaged in the Civil Rights, Black Power, and anti-war movements and has sold more than 75,000 copies to date.

Aimé Césaire eloquently describes the brutal impact of capitalism and colonialism on both the colonizer and colonized, exposing the contradictions and hypocrisy implicit in western notions of "progress"and "civilization" upon encountering the "savage," "uncultured," or "primitive." Here, Césaire reaffirms African values, identity, and culture, and their relevance, reminding us that "the relationship between consciousness and reality are extremely complex.... It is equally necessary to decolonize our minds, our inner life, at the same time that we decolonize society." An interview with Césaire by the poet René Depestre is also included.

Excerpt

Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism might be best described as a declaration of war. I would almost call it a “third world manifesto,” but hesitate because it is primarily a polemic against the old order bereft of the kind of propositions and proposals that generally accompany manifestos. Yet, Discourse speaks in revolutionary cadences, capturing the spirit of its age just as Marx and Engels did 102 years earlier in their little manifesto. First published in 1950 as Discours sur le colonialisme, it appeared just as the old empires were on the verge of collapse, thanks in part to a world war against fascism that left Europe in material, spiritual, and philosophical shambles. It was the age of decolonization and revolt in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Five years earlier, in 1945, black people from around the globe gathered in Manchester, England, for the Fifth Pan-African Congress to discuss the freedom and future of Africa. Five years later, in 1955, representatives from the Non-Aligned Nations gathered in . . .

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