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17:30 - 19:00 4 October 2017

'Arguing around Toussaint': The Black Jacobin in an Age of Revolutions


Lecture Room 103 | UCL – Institute of the Americas (link Map)
51 Gordon Square | London | WC1H 0PQ | United Kingdom

Open to: Alumni | Public | Academic | Student
Admission: 0
Ticketing: Pre-booking essential

Speaker information

Professor Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French, University of Liverpool, Charles Forsdick is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. He is currently Arts and Humanities Research Council theme leadership fellow for ‘Translating Cultures’. He has published on travel writing, colonial history, postcolonial and world literature, and the memorialization of slavery. Recent publications include The Black Jacobins Reader (Duke University Press, 2016) and Toussaint Louverture: Black Jacobin in an Age of Revolution (Pluto, 2017). Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery 2010-13, he is currently Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board at Liverpool University Press and a member of the Academy of Europe.

Reflecting on the recent experience of writing (with Christian Høgsbjerg) a biography of Toussaint Louverture, I draw in the talk on Edouard Glissant’s claim – in his Caribbean Discourse – of the continued need to ‘argue around Toussaint’. The paper focuses on the domestication of the revolutionary implications of Louverture’s life by those who have presented him as an ancien régime figure, and detects the renewal of such thinking in what has been identified as a recent ‘conservative turn’ in global histories of the revolutionary age.

Reasserting in response a reading of Louverture as the ‘Black Jacobin’ in an age of revolutions, the paper considers the key role still played by C.L.R. James (and various versions of The Black Jacobins) in situating the Haitian Revolution and its leader in a wider context of debates on Empire, decolonization and their afterlives.


Oscar Martinez
+44 (0)2031089721 | ucl-ia@ucl.ac.uk


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