This essay explores the enduring relevance and challenges of Caribbean Négritude poetry, with specific emphasis on the work and thought of Aimé Césaire and Léon-Gontran Damas. The decolonizing imperative that speaks through their work retains an agonic immediacy and political validity, exemplified by the radical hip-hop voices that emerged following the 2005 youth uprisings in French banlieues. The essay pays particular attention to the opening salvo of the Négritude movement, Damas's relatively underanalyzed Pigments (1947) and Césaire's more celebrated Notebook of a Return to the Native Land (1939–56), the former as prefiguration of Frantz Fanon's psychoanalytical exploration of “the fact of blackness” and the latter as a transcendence of narrow identitarian affirmation announcing a liberated space: the “convocation of conquest” in which there is “room for all.”

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