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'Arguing around Toussaint': The Black Jacobin in an Age of Revolutions

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UCL Institute of the Americas

51 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PN

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Professor Charles Forsdick (Liverpool) - Reflecting on the recent experience of writing (with Christian Høgsbjerg) a biography of Toussaint Louverture, I draw in the talk on Edouard Glissant’s claim – in his Caribbean Discourse – of the continued need to ‘argue around Toussaint’. The paper focuses on the domestication of the revolutionary implications of Louverture’s life by those who have presented him as an ancien régime figure, and detects the renewal of such thinking in what has been identified as a recent ‘conservative turn’ in global histories of the revolutionary age.

Reasserting in response a reading of Louverture as the ‘Black Jacobin’ in an age of revolutions, the paper considers the key role still played by C.L.R. James (and various versions of The Black Jacobins) in situating the Haitian Revolution and its leader in a wider context of debates on Empire, decolonization and their afterlives.

Charles Forsdick is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. He is currently Arts and Humanities Research Council theme leadership fellow for ‘Translating Cultures’. He has published on travel writing, colonial history, postcolonial and world literature, and the memorialization of slavery. Recent publications include The Black Jacobins Reader (Duke University Press, 2016) and Toussaint Louverture: Black Jacobin in an Age of Revolution (Pluto, 2017). Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery 2010-13, he is currently Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board at Liverpool University Press and a member of the Academy of Europe.

Attendance to this event is free of charge but registration is required. IMPORTANT NOTE ON ACCESS TO 51 GORDON SQUARE: in order to ensure a smooth delivery of the lecture and for ease of logistics, access to the building may be restricted after the start of the event. We will endeavour to accommodate late arrivals within reason, but an early arrival is recommended to avoid disappointment. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

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UCL Institute of the Americas

51 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PN

United Kingdom

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