“Memory” has become one of the buzzwords of contemporary historiography. Sparked by the atrocities of the Holocaust and intimately bound up with the concept of trauma, memory studies has gained increasing prominence in many intellectual circles and is particularly useful when considering postcolonial issues. A number of key commemorative dates over the past two decades have set the scene for a re-visioning of French and francophone history - 1992 was the 500th anniversary of the new world's “discovery” by Christopher Columbus, 1998 was the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, 2004 was the 200th anniversary of the Haitian Declaration of Independence and 2006 marked 60 years since Martinique and Guadeloupe became part of metropolitan France as overseas departments. French Caribbean writers have been vital to the public activities associated with remembrance of slavery and yet their work has been little studied in the anglophone world. This article focuses on Martinican intellectual Edouard Glissant's contribution to memory studies through his combined role as theoretician (in works such as his 2007 publication Mémoires des esclavages) and practician (in his role establishing a national memorial centre in Paris). While many critics have focused on Glissant's influence on postcolonial studies, this article assesses his importance in the burgeoning field of cultural memory.
Bonnie Thomas; Edouard Glissant and the Art of Memory. Small Axe 1 November 2009; 13 (3 (30)): 25–36. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-2009-024
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