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Linda Colley: Global History, 26 September 2013

The French Revolution in Global Perspective 
edited by Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt and William Max Nelson.
Cornell, 240 pp., £16.50, April 2013, 978 0 8014 7868 0
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... Palmer concentrated on white revolutionaries, in his 1938 classic, The Black Jacobins, C.L.R. James successfully revived interest in the slaves and free blacks active in Saint-Domingue’s revolution in 1791. Arguing that liberty, equality and fraternity meant even more to the enslaved in France’s richest Caribbean colony than to the inhabitants of ...

Making faces

Philip Horne, 9 May 1991

The Grimace 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Grafton, 256 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 246 13770 3
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Playing the game 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 234 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 224 02758 1
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The Music of Chance 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 217 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 9780571161577
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... of the British vision are fine old men from India and the Caribbean, Nirad Chaudhuri and C.L.R. James, both of whom appear in affectionate portraits here (as Nayan Dasgupta and K.C. Lewis). The narrator visits ‘Lewis’ in Brixton. He has ‘the cultivated accent of an English gentleman’, and speaks for the Caribbean blacks: ‘You see, the thing is ...

Albino Sea-Cucumber

Glen Newey: The Long March of Cornelius Castoriadis, 5 February 1998

The Imaginary Institution of Society 
by Cornelius Castoriadis.
Polity, 418 pp., £14.95, May 1997, 0 7456 1950 9
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Les Carrefours de Labyrinthe: Fait et a faire 
by Cornelius Castoriadis.
Seuil, 281 pp., frs 139, February 1997, 2 02 029909 7
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The Castoriadis Reader 
edited by David Ames Curtis.
Blackwell, 470 pp., £50, May 1997, 1 55786 703 8
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... it, forming Socialisme ou barbarie with a congeries of radicals which eventually included C.L.R. James and the Sino-American, Grace Lee Boggs; free of the French Communist Party, he managed to avoid embroilment in the latter’s dizzying volte-fesses, chronicled by Sartre in Les Mains sales. He sided with the Algerian rebels against his adopted homeland and ...

My Guru

Edward Said: Elegy for Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, 13 December 2001

... to help the cause of Palestine. A decade before me, for instance, he understood that C.L.R. James saw himself as a Westerner and could not easily identify with the Arabs. By the same token, as the director of Northwestern University’s Program of African Studies, he had an impressive acquaintance with Africa’s liberation movements, many of whose ...

Barbarism with a Human Face

Slavoj Žižek: Lenin v. Stalin in Kiev, 8 May 2014

... the Gulag were being asked by left oppositionists, from Boris Souvarine to Victor Serge to C.L.R. James, in real time and at great peril. Those courageous and prescient heretics have been somewhat written out of history (they expected far worse than that, and often received it).’ This internal dissent was a natural part of the Communist movement, in clear ...

As Many Pairs of Shoes as She Likes

Jenny Turner: On Feminism, 15 December 2011

... doesn’t say so, but this moment comes from a BBC film called People for Tomorrow, made by Selma James in 1971 and now available on open access on the BBC website. The film follows everyday women in Peckham, Belsize Park, Bristol, reflecting on what might change in their lives and how to go about making this happen, in a movement that is plain and ...

Why do white people like what I write?

Pankaj Mishra: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 22 February 2018

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 32523 0
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... bin Laden’s hideout under torture. ‘A racist society can’t but fight a racist war,’ James Baldwin wrote in 1967, ‘the assumptions acted on at home are also acted on abroad.’ During the war on terror the traffic between the US and various shithole countries wasn’t only in assumptions: there was also a wholesale exporting of ...

Who’s the real wolf?

Kevin Okoth: Black Marseille, 23 September 2021

Romance in Marseille 
by Claude McKay.
Penguin, 208 pp., £12.99, May 2020, 978 0 14 313422 0
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... arguing that his fictional version of the neighbourhood too closely resembled Black Marseille. James Weldon Johnson, who had spent the 1920s as executive secretary of the NAACP, went further, suggesting that McKay needed to return to America. ‘I feel very strongly that you ought to come and stay. New York is your market, and the United States is your ...

The End of the Plantocracy

Pooja Bhatia, 19 November 2020

The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution 
by Julius S. Scott.
Verso, 246 pp., £12.99, September 2020, 978 1 78873 248 2
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Maroon Nation: A History of Revolutionary Haiti 
by Johnhenry Gonzalez.
Yale, 302 pp., £30, August 2019, 978 0 300 23008 6
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Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Penguin, 442 pp., £25, September 2020, 978 0 241 29381 2
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... at their word. Not that many historians wrote about the revolution. The exception was C.L.R. James, whose Black Jacobins, published in 1938, was neglected for decades then reissued in 1963 as decolonisation movements gained momentum across the African continent.Writing about the Haitian Revolution has often reflected (and recreated) the inequalities that ...


Adam Shatz, 6 May 2021

Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said 
by Timothy Brennan.
Bloomsbury, 437 pp., £20, March, 978 1 5266 1465 0
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... the first part of his presentation, he had cited only European men. That he had mentioned C.L.R. James didn’t count, she said, because James was dead. Said was confounded, not only because he’d been found ‘guilty of not mentioning living non-European non-males’, but because ‘the general validity of the point made ...

Slavery and Revenge

John Kerrigan, 22 October 2020

... However you construe the evidence, Cambridge was a victim of what the historian of slavery James Walvin calls ‘plantocratic revenge’: legal or irregular retribution – whipping, shackling, lynching – that was used to punish rebellious behaviour or to make an example of someone in order to deter revolt. ‘Scratch a planter,’ Walvin ...

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