This article will focus on the black Trinidadian Marxist historian C.L.R. James and how his exposure to French as part of his colonial education and sojourns and researches in interwar France shaped the writing of his anti-colonial classic, the monumental account of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins (1938), which not only helped ‘globalise’ that revolution but also the French Revolution. Much of James’s archival research was undertaken in France, yet James also engaged with contemporary French revolutionary historiography and metropolitan anti-imperialism in ‘Black Paris’ outside of the archives, and he met many critical Francophone Pan-Africanist figures including Léon-Gontran Damas, Tiémoko Garan Kouyaté and Auguste Nemours. This article will explore such intellectual relationships and Pan-Africanist networks and examine how they illuminate wider issues relating to empire, race and resistance in France during the 1930s, amidst a context of economic crisis and the rise of the ‘Popular Front’ government.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History on 26/12/2019, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03086534.2019.1706804
- C.L.R. James
- The Black Jacobins
- Black Paris