Subverting Empire: Gendered Narratives of Anti-colonial Resistance in Francophone Literature and Politics; 1939-1960
Joseph-Gabriel, Annette Naa Koshie
This study examines the anti-colonial political practices of African and Antillean women instrumental in decolonization movements in the 1940s and 50s. The timeframe is critical because it situates Francophone women at the intersection of two major constitutional changes: the extension of French citizenship to the colonies and women’s suffrage in France. The specific thesis of this work is that the women studied here articulated variations of a decolonial feminism. That is, they recognized the intersecting forces of racial, gendered and class oppression as fundamental to colonial rule. Consequently they argued in their texts that there could be no real decolonization without women’s emancipation. Through publishing venues that boasted a transatlantic readership, or from within the corridors of established political institutions such as the French National Assembly and Senate, black women engaged with power and representation at a particularly charged time in the history of French national identity politics. Thus African and Antillean women emerge as primary theorizers and practitioners of liberation.