Claims to Memory: Beyond Slavery and Emancipation in the by Catherine Reinhardt

By Catherine Reinhardt

Why do the folk of the French Caribbean nonetheless remain haunted by way of the reminiscence in their slave earlier a couple of hundred and fifty years after the abolition of slavery? What procedure ended in the divorce in their collective reminiscence of slavery and emancipation from France's portrayal of those historic phenomena? How are Martinicans and Guadeloupeans this present day reworking the silences of the previous into historic and cultural manifestations rooted within the Caribbean? This publication solutions those questions by way of pertaining to the 1998 controversy surrounding the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of France's abolition of slavery to the interval of the slave regime spanning the past due Enlightenment and the French Revolution. by means of evaluating a variety of documents-including letters through slaves, unfastened humans of colour, and planters, in addition to writings by means of the philosophes, royal decrees, and courtroom cases-the writer untangles the advanced forces of the slave regime that experience formed collective reminiscence. the present nationalization of the reminiscence of slavery in France has grew to become those as soon as peripheral claims into passionate political and cultural debates.

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Extra info for Claims to Memory: Beyond Slavery and Emancipation in the French Caribbean (Polygons)

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Realms of memory, according to Nora (1996: xvii), are entities or places that have become symbolic elements of a community’s memorial heritage. The philosophes of the Enlightenment have come to represent all the “positive” facets of the slave past linked to the ending of cruelty, injustice, and exploitation. They symbolize the nation’s memory of itself as the land of universal justice and equality. Nora’s (1996: xviii) emphasis on investigating the whole spectrum of latent or hidden 26 Catherine Reinhardt elements of national memory allows for a deep probing of the notion of memory.

Natural servitude must therefore be limited to certain countries on this earth. Two radically opposed ideologies clash together in this passage. On one hand, Montesquieu repeatedly underlines the “natural” reasons that may justify slavery in certain regions of the world due to the excessive heat that makes the inhabitants less productive. His position echoes the pseudoscientific explanations regarding racial variances. On the other hand, nature speaks against slavery altogether since “all men are born 40 Catherine Reinhardt equal” and slavery and equality cannot be reconciled.

12 After an initial historical contextualization contrasted with the emergence of the profoundly mythical dimension of the maroon, the chapter examines two themes dominating eighteenthcentury narratives. On one hand, maroons are depicted as brutishly violent actors against the slave regime. On the other hand, they are thought to be fundamentally “civilizable” due to their superior power and intelligence. They are seen as the building blocks of a cooperative agreement between white plantation owners and the black masses.

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