ACME Lecture Series: What was/is Négritude? Why does it Matter Today?

Presented by Professor Julia Knowlton 




Date: Thursday, February 7, 2019 

Time: 1:00 p.m -1:50 p.m 

Buttrick Hall Film Room G-4


Négritude is a literary, philosophical, and political movement that arose in France and the Francophone world in the 1920s.  The aim of the movement was twofold: first, it problematized the historical situation of the person of color within the context of French colonialism and racism and second, it affirmed the value of African and Caribbean artistic expression in all forms.  Aimé Césaire (Martinique), Léopold Senghor (Sénégal), and Léon Dumas (Guiana) founded the movement; Frantz Fanon and Paulette and Andrée Nardal, all from Martinique, were also crucial and lasting voices in it.  

This lecture will present and interpret the primary problem that the Négritude writers explored; namely, the profound alienation experienced by the colonized individual. After presenting the Hegelian dialectic wherein the (white) master denies the humanity of the (black) slave in order to justify his own existence, I will cite key works in order to show how Négritude writers reclaimed and affirmed their identity by writing in French--the very same language imposed by their oppressor. In conclusion, I will highlight important parallels between the Négritude movement and the Harlem Renaissance movement, as well as the cultural legacy of Négritude in contemporary France.