Chapter 1. Unthinking France, Rethinking Decolonization
1 I borrow the felicitous phrase from Th omas Holt’s magisterial Th e Problem of
2 Th is emphasis on what might have been diff ers from the focus on reconciliation,
rehabilitation, stabilization, and unifying commemoration of the war in Tony
Judt’s Postwar. For criticism of Judt’s privileging memory over possibilities and not
directly engaging decolonization, see Geoff Eley, “Eu rope aft er 1945,” 195– 212.
3 Aft er serving in the Re sis tance during the war, Léon- Gontran Damas, the third
founder of the Negritude movement, represented Guyane in the French National
Assembly, where he headed a commission to investigate France’s violent repression
of protests in Côte d’Ivoire in 1950. Aft er leaving electoral politics he conducted
research for unesco, traveled widely in Africa and the Americas, and taught at
Georgetown and Howard universities (Racine, Léon- Gontran Damas, 31– 54).
4 I distinguish between “globe” or “global” and “world,” “worldness,” or “becoming
worldwide,” as connoted by the French mondialité and modialisation. See Lefebvre,
“Th e Worldwide Experience,” 274– 89, and Nancy, “Urbi and Orbi,” 31– 55.
5 Cf. Henri Lefebvre’s dialectic of the possible- impossible, or how alternative forms
of life may be recognized within actually existing arrangements: Introduction to
Modernity, 68, 125, 348.
6 Gary Wilder, Th e French Imperial Nation- State.
7 Th e concrete cosmopolitanism of Paul Gilroy and Achille Mbembe and the radical
humanism of Edward Said may be situated in a lineage including Senghor and Césaire.
See Gilroy, Postcolonial Melancholia; Mbembe, Sortir de la grande nuit; Said, Humanism
and Demo cratic Criticism; and Alessandrini, “Humanism in Question,” 431– 50.
8 Th is has been the case for world- systems theorists, historians of British empire,
and diplomatic historians. See Amin, Re- Reading the Postwar Period; Arrighi, Long
Twentieth Century; Gallagher and Robinson, “Imperialism of Free Trade,” 1– 15;
Louis, Imperialism at Bay; Louis and Robinson, “Imperialism of Decolonization,”
462– 511; Hopkins, “Rethinking Decolonization,” 211– 47; Connelly, A Diplomatic
Revolution; and Lawrence and Logevall, Th e First Vietnam War.
9 Marseille, Empire Colonial; Cooper, Decolonization and African Society; LeSueur,
Uncivil War, 36– 54; Shepard, Invention of Decolonization.
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