This essay focuses on how Aimé Césaire's postwar confrontation with the problem of colonial emancipation may speak directly to our current political and theoretical impasses, especially regarding alternative (nonliberal) forms of humanism and cosmopolitanism. By pursuing alternative forms of decolonization that would enable self-determination without state sovereignty, Césaire challenged the territorial and national assumptions that typically governed twentieth-century cultural and political thinking and which still inform social thought today. This essay examines several of Césaire's critical strategies—political pragmatism, radical literalism, poetic knowledge, untimely vision, and situated humanism—through which we can think with him about his world as well as ours. It seeks, in Césairean fashion, to treat him as a contemporary thinker through whom we might begin to decolonize intellectual history, deprovincialize black thought, and globalize critical theory.

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