Black French Women and the Struggle for Equality, 1848-2016


Black French Women and the Struggle for Equality, 1848-2016

Edited and with an introduction by Félix Germain and Silyane Larcher
Foreword by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting

France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series

294 pages


October 2018


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October 2018


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eBook (PDF)
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October 2018


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About the Book

Black French Women and the Struggle for Equality, 1848–2016 explores how black women in France itself, the French Caribbean, Gorée, Dakar, Rufisque, and Saint-Louis experienced and reacted to French colonialism and how gendered readings of colonization, decolonization, and social movements cast new light on the history of French colonization and of black France. In addition to delineating the powerful contributions of black French women in the struggle for equality, contributors also look at the experiences of African American women in Paris and in so doing integrate into colonial and postcolonial conversations the strategies black women have engaged in negotiating gender and race relations à la française.

Drawing on research by scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds and countries, this collection offers a fresh, multidimensional perspective on race, class, and gender relations in France and its former colonies, exploring how black women have negotiated the boundaries of patriarchy and racism from their emancipation from slavery to the second decade of the twenty-first century.

Author Bio

Félix Germain is an assistant professor of Africana studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Decolonizing the Republic: African and Caribbean Migrants in Postwar France, 1946–1974. Silyane Larcher is a historical and political sociologist working as a research scholar at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). She is the author of The Other Citizen: The Republican Ideal and the West Indies after Slavery.


"This wide-ranging volume, in total, makes a compelling case for rethinking metropolitan politics and black French women's history and theory. In its interdisciplinary approach, its melding of colonial and postcolonial France and overseas France into one analytic field, it offers rich possibilities for future research and theorizing about black feminisms, resistance, and, perhaps the single most contested political ideology in the world, equality."—Brett A. Berliner, H-France

"This corpus of work importantly showcases the research of minority scholars and advances the literature concerning gender and race in francophone, colonial, and postcolonial studies. Black French Women investigates struggles for equality and provides a model for centering those struggles in academic work."—Sarah Zimmerman, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This is a collection that gives a flavour and an overview of the ways that black French women have fought for equality and is, I hope, a prelude for further research. It certainly inspired me to explore the rise of Afrofeminism and return to the work of the Nardal sisters and their legacy."—Anya Edmond-Pettitt, Race & Class

"The contributors to this volume call attention to the diverse ways in which class, gender, religion, culture, racial discrimination, and migration have contributed to a pluralistic formulation of blackness, femininity, and Frenchness that defies uniformity and fixation into a single category of thought."—Severine Bates, French Review

“A timely and compelling contribution to multiple fields, including French history as well as African, African American, Caribbean, black, and diaspora studies. Larcher and Germain expand the burgeoning fields of black European studies and French colonial history by putting multiple disciplines in dialogue via their contributors’ aggregate explorations of intersections between race and gender. The editors have managed to think through a reading of Frenchness that reaches beyond citizenship to include black women who spent their lives in France and/or the French empire, even if they did not possess French identity papers.”—Jennifer Anne Boittin, author of Colonial Metropolis: The Urban Grounds of Anti-Imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris

Table of Contents

T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
Introduction: Marianne Is Also Black
Félix Germain and Silyane Larcher
Part 1. Black Women in Politics and Society
1. Originaire Women and Political Life in Senegal’s Four Communes
Hilary Jones
2. Christiane Taubira, a Black Woman in Politics in French Guiana and in France
Stéphanie Guyon
3. A Passion for Justice: The Role of Women in the Aliker Case
Monique Milia-Marie-Luce
Part 2. Feminist and Postcolonial Movements for Equality
4. French Caribbean Feminism in the Postdepartmentalization Era
Félix Germain
5. The End of Silence: On the Revival of Afrofeminism in Contemporary France
Silyane Larcher
6. Gerty Archimède and the Struggle for Decolonial Citizenship in the French Antilles, 1946–51
Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel
Part 3. Respectability, Resistance, and Transnational Identities
7. A Black Woman’s Life in the Struggle: Jean McNair in France
Tyler Stovall
8. Am I My Sister’s Keeper? The Politics of Propriety and the Fight for Equality in the Works of French Antillean Women Writers, 1920s–40s
Jacqueline Couti
9. Between Respectability and Resistance: French Caribbean Women Confronted by Masculine Domination during the Second Half of the Twentieth Century
Stéphanie Mulot and Nadine Lefaucheur
Part 4. The Dialectics between Body, Nation, and Representation
10. Media and the Politics of “Re-presentation” of the Black Female Body
Sarah Fila-Bakabadio
11. Shaking the Racial and Gender Foundations of France: The Influences of “Sarah Baartman” in the Production of Frenchness
Robin Mitchell
Part 5. Black Women Critique the “Empire”
12. Discourse on Immigration: Fatou Diome’s Commitment to Human Rights in The Belly of the Atlantic
Joseph Diémé
13. Remapping the Metropolis: Theorizing Black Women’s Subjectivities in Interwar Paris
Claire Oberon Garcia
14. Social Imaginaries in Tension? The Women of Cameroon’s Battle for Equal Rights under French Rule at the Turn of the 1940s–50s
Rose Ndengue

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