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Gary WilderFreedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World

Duke University Press, 2015

by Roxanne Panchasi on June 28, 2015

Gary Wilder

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Gary Wilder's new book, Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World (Duke University Press, 2015) builds upon the work he began in The French Imperial Nation State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the Two World Wars (University of Chicago Press, 2005). Freedom Time considers the politics and poetics of Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor during the period 1945-1960, "thinking with" and "working through" the ways these figures anticipated a post-imperial world. The book explores notions of liberation and temporality, considering the alternatives to nationalism and the nation-state that these thinkers imagined as they looked forward to a more democratic, autonomous future on the other side of colonialism.

While The French Imperial Nation State asked readers to "rethink France," the project here is, in the author's own words, to "unthink France". Indeed, France, decolonization, and even liberation itself, are all interrogated in this work, as they were by the authors who are at the center of the project. Freedom Time is a book that takes seriously the futures envisioned by Césaire and Senghor, situating their projects historically and intellectually within contexts French and global, and considering the implications of their thought for a contemporary world still troubled by profound inequalities. It is an important book for those interested in the most urgent political questions, and in the problems and promises of freedoms past, present, and future.

At the beginning of our interview, Gary mentions a video link I sent him before we spoke. It is a video of Lauryn Hill performing "Freedom Time," a wonderful song that I was reminded of by this wonderful book.

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