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

Duke University Press, 2015

by Roxanne Panchasi on June 28, 2015

Gary Wilder

View on Amazon

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.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Scott StrausMaking and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership and Genocide in Modern Africa

June 9, 2015

Who, in the field of genocide studies, hasn't at least once used the phrase "The century of genocide?"  Books carry the title, journalists quote it in interviews and undergrads adopt it. There's nothing wrong with the phrase, as far as it goes.  But, as Scott Straus points out, conceptualizing the century in that way masks […]

Read the full article →

Pedro MachadoOcean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa, and the Indian Ocean, c.1750-1850

May 5, 2015

Pedro Machado's Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c.1750-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 2014) is a richly detailed and engaging account of Gujarati merchants and their role in the trade of textiles, ivory and slaves across the Indian Ocean. The book not only enhances our understanding of an under researched pan-continental trade […]

Read the full article →

Nicholas DuncanTales from a Muzungu

May 1, 2015

Tales from a Muzungu (Peace Corps Writers, 2014) relates a Peace Corps Volunteer's experiences living and working in Uganda. Mixing keen observation, sensitivity, and insight with a mordant wit and sense of humor, Nicholas Duncan discusses the highs and lows of being a PCV in East Africa. Filled with moments of danger, absurdity, joy, and shock, Duncan's book portrays the reality […]

Read the full article →

Matthew M. HeatonBlack Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry

April 27, 2015

In Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry (Ohio University Press, 2013), Matthew M. Heaton explores changes in psychiatric theory and practice during the decolonization of European empires in Africa in the mid-twentieth century. His story follows the transcultural Nigerian psychiatrists who tried to transform the discourse around and treatment of mental illness […]

Read the full article →

Mariana CandidoAn African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World: Benguela and its Hinterland

April 17, 2015

Mariana Candido’s book An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World. Benguela and its Hinterland (Cambridge University Press, 2013) is a powerful and moving exploration of the history and development of the port of Benguela. Founded by the Portuguese in the early seventeenth century, Benguela, located on the central coast of present-day Angola, was the third largest […]

Read the full article →

Erskine ClarkeBy the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth Century Atlantic Odyssey

February 9, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in American Studies] Jane Bayard Wilson and John Leighton Wilson were unlikely African missionaries, coming as they did from privileged slaveholding families in Georgia and South Carolina, respectively. Yet in 1834 they embarked on a nearly twenty-year adventure as Christian missionaries to two peoples in western Africa — the Grebo in Liberia, and […]

Read the full article →

Emilie CloatrePills for the Poorest: An Exploration of TRIPS and Access to Medication in Sub-Saharan Africa

February 9, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Medicine] Emilie Cloatre’s award-winning book, Pills for the Poorest: An Exploration of TRIPS and Access to Medication in Sub-Saharan Africa (Palgrave, 2013), locates the effects—and ineffectualness—of a landmark international agreement for healthcare: the World Trade Organization’s “Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.” Cloatre takes seriously the idea of TRIPS as a technology in […]

Read the full article →

Georges Nzongola-NtalajaPatrice Lumumba

February 2, 2015

Patrice Lumumba was a leader of the independence struggle, as well as the country’s first democratically elected prime minister, in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After a meteoric rise in the colonial civil service and the African political elite, he became a major figure in the decolonization movement of the 1950s. […]

Read the full article →

Elizabeth SchmidtForeign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror

January 21, 2015

Elizabeth Schmidt's Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (Cambridge University Press, 2013) depicts the foreign political and military interventions in Africa during the periods of decolonization (1956-75) and the Cold War (1945-91), as well as the periods of state collapse (1991-2001) and the “global war on terror” (2001-10). In the […]

Read the full article →