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  • Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World

    Author(s):
    Pages: 400
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $99.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5839-8
  • Paperback: $28.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5850-3
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  • Index 373

    Preface ix

    Acknowledgments xv

    1. Unthinking France, Rethinking Decolonization 1

    2. Situating Césaire: Antillean Awakening and Global Redemption 17

    3. Situating Senghor: African Hospitality and Human Solidarity 49

    4. Freedom, Time, Territory 74

    5. Departmentalization and the Spirit of Schoelcher 106

    6. Federalism and the Future of France 133

    7. Antillean Autonomy and the Legacy of Louverture 167

    8. African Socialism and the Fate of the World 206

    9. Decolonization and Postnational Democracy 241

    Chronology 261

    Notes 275

    Works Cited 333
  • "Freedom Time is an important book. It is also exceptionally scholarly and extremely readable. Such qualities rarely inhere in a single text. And they are rarely bundled into an analysis so passionate and timely that excavates past attempts at human emancipation in order to reveal new pathways into modernization." 

    "At our present juncture of history when nation-states are at various stages of unravelling, neo-liberal economic interests have created unprecedented level of global inequity, and migrants are flocking to the shores of Europe risking death and deportation, it has become more than ever imperative to reconsider territorialist frameworks as default forms toward self-determination.... Wilder’s book maps the conception of different frameworks within which self-determination could be meaningfully pursued, as well as their relevance in the historiography of the decolonization."

    "Rich, dense, and meticulously researched, Gary Wilder’s book offers nuanced critical reflections on the alternative landscapes of freedom proposed by Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor."

    "We are invited to step-with and listen to these poet-politicians in our task of rethinking politics, art, and society, charging ahead toward new futures and freedom."

    "There is an important message here ... for a broad audience, and I sincerely hope that it reaches beyond French Studies, postcolonial, or colonial historical studies. Wilder observes that Césaire, Sédar and their contemporaries in black Caribbean and African thought ‘are rarely included in general considerations of interwar philosophy or postwar social theory’ (9). What Freedom Time does most convincingly is to demonstrate that the social theory studied in European universities is weaker for this omission and that serious engagement with these thinkers is long overdue." 

    "[A] thoughtful and challenging work on the often maligned Negritude thinkers, poets, and politicians Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor." 

    "[A] tremendous achievement in scope and originality. Readers who wish to think about the nation-state from a deeply historical and theoretically sophisticated perspective will be richly rewarded."

    "Freedom Time is an engaging book that combines cultural anthropology, political theory and postcolonial theory and offers the reader a detailed intellectual history of Leopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire between 1945 and 1960." 

    "Gary Wilder’s Freedom Time constitutes an exciting and significant contribution to the field of nation and nationalism study in that he challenges the claim that decolonisation and self-determination can, and should, only lead to one form of state sovereignty: the nation-state."

    "Gary Wilder’s study of the two négritude poets who embraced politics in spite of themselves—Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor—is a welcome antidote to the essays and monographs that have been, for half a century and more, bogged down in antinomies." 

    "Wilder provides us with a provocative retelling of the intellectual and political vision of two luminaries of the 20th century, and he does a great service by recasting our attention to these two authors to provoke reflection on the condition of nationhood and sovereignty in the 21st century. The text is always engaging and at times possesses a lyricism that echoes the poetics of Césaire and Senghor.... This book is a welcome addition, providing a substantial contribution to the field of francophone intellectual history."

    "Freedom Time is a dynamic treatise deftly upholding the Fanonian and Wynterian imperatives to navigate ongoing processes of decolonization and becoming Human betwixt and between the allure of emancipations masking as freedom."

    "Wilder’s ability to demonstrate Césaire and Senghor’s strategic untimeliness in the postwar years, as well as their importance for our own times, impresses."

    "Freedom Time is an impressive, inspiring, necessary work. . . . Wilder's lucid, sensitively textured and impressively well-researched book allows us to rethink the meaning of decolonisation and the conceptual nexus surrounding it."

    "The book makes a significant contribution to the field of history by interrogating what could have been, arguing that Freedom did not mean the same thing for everyone under French colonial rule."

    "Wilder’s reading of Senghor and Césaire is subtle and engaging, and challenges the idea that they were cynical – or naive."

    Reviews

  • "Freedom Time is an important book. It is also exceptionally scholarly and extremely readable. Such qualities rarely inhere in a single text. And they are rarely bundled into an analysis so passionate and timely that excavates past attempts at human emancipation in order to reveal new pathways into modernization." 

    "At our present juncture of history when nation-states are at various stages of unravelling, neo-liberal economic interests have created unprecedented level of global inequity, and migrants are flocking to the shores of Europe risking death and deportation, it has become more than ever imperative to reconsider territorialist frameworks as default forms toward self-determination.... Wilder’s book maps the conception of different frameworks within which self-determination could be meaningfully pursued, as well as their relevance in the historiography of the decolonization."

    "Rich, dense, and meticulously researched, Gary Wilder’s book offers nuanced critical reflections on the alternative landscapes of freedom proposed by Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor."

    "We are invited to step-with and listen to these poet-politicians in our task of rethinking politics, art, and society, charging ahead toward new futures and freedom."

    "There is an important message here ... for a broad audience, and I sincerely hope that it reaches beyond French Studies, postcolonial, or colonial historical studies. Wilder observes that Césaire, Sédar and their contemporaries in black Caribbean and African thought ‘are rarely included in general considerations of interwar philosophy or postwar social theory’ (9). What Freedom Time does most convincingly is to demonstrate that the social theory studied in European universities is weaker for this omission and that serious engagement with these thinkers is long overdue." 

    "[A] thoughtful and challenging work on the often maligned Negritude thinkers, poets, and politicians Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor." 

    "[A] tremendous achievement in scope and originality. Readers who wish to think about the nation-state from a deeply historical and theoretically sophisticated perspective will be richly rewarded."

    "Freedom Time is an engaging book that combines cultural anthropology, political theory and postcolonial theory and offers the reader a detailed intellectual history of Leopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire between 1945 and 1960." 

    "Gary Wilder’s Freedom Time constitutes an exciting and significant contribution to the field of nation and nationalism study in that he challenges the claim that decolonisation and self-determination can, and should, only lead to one form of state sovereignty: the nation-state."

    "Gary Wilder’s study of the two négritude poets who embraced politics in spite of themselves—Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor—is a welcome antidote to the essays and monographs that have been, for half a century and more, bogged down in antinomies." 

    "Wilder provides us with a provocative retelling of the intellectual and political vision of two luminaries of the 20th century, and he does a great service by recasting our attention to these two authors to provoke reflection on the condition of nationhood and sovereignty in the 21st century. The text is always engaging and at times possesses a lyricism that echoes the poetics of Césaire and Senghor.... This book is a welcome addition, providing a substantial contribution to the field of francophone intellectual history."

    "Freedom Time is a dynamic treatise deftly upholding the Fanonian and Wynterian imperatives to navigate ongoing processes of decolonization and becoming Human betwixt and between the allure of emancipations masking as freedom."

    "Wilder’s ability to demonstrate Césaire and Senghor’s strategic untimeliness in the postwar years, as well as their importance for our own times, impresses."

    "Freedom Time is an impressive, inspiring, necessary work. . . . Wilder's lucid, sensitively textured and impressively well-researched book allows us to rethink the meaning of decolonisation and the conceptual nexus surrounding it."

    "The book makes a significant contribution to the field of history by interrogating what could have been, arguing that Freedom did not mean the same thing for everyone under French colonial rule."

    "Wilder’s reading of Senghor and Césaire is subtle and engaging, and challenges the idea that they were cynical – or naive."

  • "Freedom Time is astonishing in its originality, breadth of learning, rhetorical power, interdisciplinary reach, and theoretical sophistication. It thoroughly transforms our understanding of the dialogues and disputations that made up the 'Black' / French encounter. With this work, Gary Wilder establishes himself as one of the most compelling and powerful voices in French and Francophone critical studies." — Achille Mbembe, author of, On the Postcolony

    "Freedom Time is an exemplary work of critical revision. Thinking through the cultural-political writings of Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor, Gary Wilder aims to put into question the normative narrative of anticolonial nationalism that yokes the demand for self-determination to the political form of state sovereignty. Why should the nation-state be the necessary horizon of political freedom? In a time such as ours, when postcolonial states have exhausted their emancipationist energies, Wilder's intervention significantly contributes to the possibility of rethinking political futurity against empire." — David Scott, author of, Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, Justice

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  • Description

    Freedom Time reconsiders decolonization from the perspectives of Aimé Césaire (Martinique) and Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal) who, beginning in 1945, promoted self-determination without state sovereignty. As politicians, public intellectuals, and poets they struggled to transform imperial France into a democratic federation, with former colonies as autonomous members of a transcontinental polity. In so doing, they revitalized past but unrealized political projects and anticipated impossible futures by acting as if they had already arrived. Refusing to reduce colonial emancipation to national independence, they regarded decolonization as an opportunity to remake the world, reconcile peoples, and realize humanity’s potential. Emphasizing the link between politics and aesthetics, Gary Wilder reads Césaire and Senghor as pragmatic utopians, situated humanists, and concrete cosmopolitans whose postwar insights can illuminate current debates about self-management, postnational politics, and planetary solidarity. Freedom Time invites scholars to decolonize intellectual history and globalize critical theory, to analyze the temporal dimensions of political life, and to question the territorialist assumptions of contemporary historiography.

    About The Author(s)

    Gary Wilder is Associate Professor of Anthropology at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  He is the author of The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the Two World Wars.
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