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Discourse on Colonialism

Discourse on Colonialism

Aimé Césaire
Translated by Joan Pinkham
NEW INTRODUCTION BY Robin D.G. Kelley
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 102
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qfkrm
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  • Book Info
    Discourse on Colonialism
    Book Description:

    "Cesaire's essay stands as an important document in the development of third world consciousness--a process in which [he] played a prominent role." --Library Journal This classic work, first published in France in 1955, profoundly influenced the generation of scholars and activists at the forefront of liberation struggles in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Nearly twenty years later, when published for the first time in English, Discourse on Colonialism inspired a new generation engaged in the Civil Rights, Black Power, and anti-war movements and has sold more than 75,000 copies to date. Aime Cesaire eloquently describes the brutal impact of capitalism and colonialism on both the colonizer and colonized, exposing the contradictions and hypocrisy implicit in western notions of "progress" and "civilization" upon encountering the "savage," "uncultured," or "primitive." Here, Cesaire reaffirms African values, identity, and culture, and their relevance, reminding us that "the relationship between consciousness and reality are extremely complex. . . . It is equally necessary to decolonize our minds, our inner life, at the same time that we decolonize society." An interview with Cesaire by the poet Rene Depestre is also included.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-411-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Introduction A POETICS OF ANTICOLONIALISM
    (pp. 7-28)
    Robin D.G. Kelley

    Aimé Césaire’sDiscourse on Colonialismmight be best described as a declaration of war. I would almost call it a “third world manifesto,” but hesitate because it is primarily a polemic against the old order bereft of the kind of propositions and proposals that generally accompany manifestos. Yet,Discoursespeaks in revolutionary cadences, capturing the spirit of its age just as Marx and Engels did 102 years earlier in their little manifesto. First published in 1950 asDiscours sur le colonialisme, it appeared just as the old empires were on the verge of collapse, thanks in part to a world...

  4. DISCOURSE ON COLONIALISM
    (pp. 29-78)
    Aimé Césaire

    A civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems it creates is a decadent civilization.

    A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is a stricken civilization.

    A civilization that uses its principles for trickery and deceit is a dying civilization.

    The fact is that the so-called European civilization—“Western” civilization—as it has been shaped by two centuries of bourgeois rule, is incapable of solving the two major problems to which its existence has given rise: the problem of the proletariat and the colonial problem; that Europe is unable to justify itself either before...

  5. AN INTERVIEW WITH AIMÉ CÉSAIRE
    (pp. 79-94)
    AIMÉ CÉSAIRE

    The following interview with Aime Césaire was conducted by Haitian poet and militant René Depestre at the Cultural Congress of Havana in 1967. It first appeared in Poesias, an anthology of Césaire’s writings published by Casa de las Américas. It has been translated from the Spanish by Man Riojrancos.

    RENÉ DEPESTRE: The critic Lilyan Kesteloot has written thatReturn to My Native Landis an autobiographical book. Is this opinion well founded?

    AIMÉ CÉSAIRE: Certainly. It is an autobiographical book, but at the same time it is a book in which I tried to gain an understanding of myself. In...

  6. Notes A POETICS OF ANTICOLONIALISM
    (pp. 95-102)
    Robin D.G. Kelley