Revealing how the histories of slavery and colonialism are being resurrected and racialized in France today
Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France
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Crystal Marie Fleming
How can politicians and ordinary citizens face the racial past in a country that frames itself as colorblind? In her timely and provocative book, Resurrecting Slavery, Crystal Fleming shows how people make sense of slavery in a nation where talking about race, colonialism, and slavery remains taboo. Noting how struggles over the meaning of racial history are informed by contemporary politics of race, she asks: What kinds of group identities are at stake today for activists and French people with ties to overseas territories where slavery took place?
Fleming investigates the connections and disconnections that are made between racism, slavery, and colonialism in France. She provides historical context and examines how politicians and commemorative activists interpret the racial past and present. Resurrecting Slavery also includes in-depth interviews with French Caribbean migrants outside the commemorative movement to address the everyday racial politics of remembrance.
Bringing a critical race perspective to the study of French racism, Fleming's groundbreaking study provides a more nuanced understanding of race in France along with new ways of thinking about the global dimensions of slavery, anti-blackness, and white supremacy.
"Combining fascinating qualitative data with incisive critical race theory, Fleming offers new insights into the contradiction between France's color-blind political narrative and its ongoing legacy of racial oppression. She demonstrates that, in the hands of French Caribbean and black French activists, attempts to commemorate slavery have the potential to break the silence surrounding racism in France. Resurrecting Slavery is an important reminder that only by confronting white supremacy in its past and present, national and global incarnations can we hope to dismantle it."
"Linguistic barriers have too often hindered communication and learning possibilities among different sections of the global black diaspora. In her essential and illuminating book, Resurrecting Slavery, Crystal Fleming brings to our Anglo attention the state of debate on racism and slavery in continental and overseas France-a country that has refused to even recognize 'race' as a legitimate category. As she shows, only by confronting the historical and ongoing realities of white supremacy can we truly begin to commemorate and overcome the legacy of the colonial and slave past."
"This compelling study probes the assumptions of race-blindness permeating contemporary French society through the perspective of critical race theory applied to refractions of slavery and memory among the varied citizens and immigrants of the state today.... [Fleming] reveal[s] complex questions and deep dialogues about slavery and identities, interwoven with issues of temporality and memory. One particular strength of the text lies in its lengthy engagements with speakers of different positions that remind readers how complex and mutable these issues of legacy and meaning continue to be—dividing as well as uniting populations.... A truly thoughtful and discussion-provoking text for scholars and students alike. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
Crystal Marie Fleming is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Stony Brook University.