This essay approaches the stage versions of Toussaint Louverture (1934) and The Black Jacobins (1967), first, to emphasize the role of C. L. R. James’s collaborations in the creation of the plays, and second, to argue that the latter version of the play presents a radical feminism that emerges precisely from these collaborations. One of the play’s most radical revisions is the centrality of the militant mulatta Marie-Jeanne, whose centrality challenges scholarly interpretations of James’s relationships with women and with feminism. This scholarship depicts James, at worst, as a paragon of patriarchy and, at best, as a man caught between the feminist politics of the women in his life and the constraints of a male-centered Caribbean revolutionary and anticolonial tradition. By contrast, this essay argues that the feminism in the play must be read beyond James the man and instead in the context of his collaborations, particularly with radical women thinkers.
Can a Mulatta Be a Black Jacobin?: C. L. R. James, Feminism, and the Place of Collaboration
Raj Chetty is an assistant professor of black literature and culture in the English and Comparative Literature Department at San Diego State University, specializing in Caribbean literature across English, Spanish, and French, with a focus on the black diaspora. With Amaury Rodríguez, he is the coeditor of “Dominican Black Studies,” a special issue of The Black Scholar (2015), and his work has appeared in Callaloo, Palimpsest, and Afro-Hispanic Review.
Raj Chetty; Can a Mulatta Be a Black Jacobin?: C. L. R. James, Feminism, and the Place of Collaboration. Small Axe 1 November 2019; 23 (3 (60)): 87–103. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7912286
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