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After discussing the problem of emancipation in the colonial Antilles, this chapter situates Aimé Césaire in relation to existing scholarship and the wartime political landscape. It focuses on his writings for the journal Tropiques in Martinique during the years of Vichy occupation, when he, Suzanne Césaire (his wife), René Ménil, and their colleagues called for an Antillean awakening or renaissance and sought to elaborate a distinctive Antillean modernism and humanism that drew on European, African, and Caribbean sources. The chapter pays special attention to the conception of “poetic knowledge” that Aimé Césaire developed, in his essay “Poetry and Knowledge,” about the relationship of politics, aesthetics, and epistemology. It discusses his strategy of claiming seemingly foreign legacies as properly Antillean and identifying immanent possibilities within existing arrangements.

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