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Discourse on Colonialism [Paperback]

Aime Cesaire , Robin D. G. Kelley , Aima(c) Ca(c)Saire
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2001
"Césaire's essay stands as an important document in the development of third world consciousness--a process in which [he] played a prominent role."
--Library Journal

This classic work, first published in France in 1955, profoundly influenced the generation of scholars and activists at the forefront of liberation struggles in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Nearly twenty years later, when published for the first time in English, Discourse on Colonialism inspired a new generation engaged in the Civil Rights, Black Power, and anti-war movements and has sold more than 75,000 copies to date.

Aimé Césaire eloquently describes the brutal impact of capitalism and colonialism on both the colonizer and colonized, exposing the contradictions and hypocrisy implicit in western notions of "progress" and "civilization" upon encountering the "savage," "uncultured," or "primitive." Here, Césaire reaffirms African values, identity, and culture, and their relevance, reminding us that "the relationship between consciousness and reality are extremely complex. . . . It is equally necessary to decolonize our minds, our inner life, at the same time that we decolonize society." An interview with Césaire by the poet René Depestre is also included.

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Product Description

About the Author

A celebrated poet, novelist, and philosopher, AIMÉ CÉSAIRE is the author of several books, volumes of poetry and numerous plays, including Return to My Native Land, A Season in the Congo and an African version of Shakespeare's The Tempest. ROBIN D. G. KELLY is Professor of History and Africana Studies at New York University and the author of Race Rebels and Yo Mama's Dysfunktional!

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5.0 out of 5 stars An Indictment Bursting with Emotion May 2 2002
This book was written before Fanon's "Black Skins, White Masks". Much of what Fanon did in his great debut is elaborate on Cesaire's work, add psychiatric aspects to it, and further explore the ideas of Cesaire.
Cesaire's denounciation of the West (both Europe and the US) is based on two pillars - one is the Western deeply racist and violent attitude towards the then colonized world, and the second is Cesaire's Marxist leanings.He mentions the Soviet Union in one short sentence as an example of a positive society - how were people misled by Stalinist Russia was a mystery. But in the forward by Robin Kelly we learn that Cesaire quit the communist party and denounced Stalinism as early as 1956.
Cesaire's strongest point is that French attitudes towards Africa (half a century ago !) bear a close resemblence to German Nazi attitudes towards Jews and other "inferior" people.
The forward by Robin Kelly and the interview with Cesaire at the end add a lot of subtance to this powerful but short essay.
This book is highly recommended to people who appreciate Fanon, and all those who wish to learn the roots of anti colonial philosophy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful indictment of Europe May 31 2001
While best known as a poet, Aime Cesaire proves himself in this work to be a first-rate political and cultural critic. His *Discourse on Colonialism*, along with Frantz Fanon's *Wretched of the Earth* are the seminal consciousness-raising works for colonialized peoples. Although Fanon and his book are the more famous, it is not obvious that this is justified. Cesaire brings his immense linguistic and poetic talents to his discourse, resulting in a work which is not only insightful, but moving and motivating as well. Cesaire condemns European imperialism in Africa and the Americas as evidence that European civilization is fundamentally sick and dying. He accuses Europe of turning a blind eye to the suffering caused by imperialistic rule, for the colonizer as well as the colonized. Most importantly, he calls to account not only the colonized people, but the Europeans as well. It is not only a powerful indictment, but a call to action and an attempt to shatter European self-deception. Even in a political climate that has changed greatly since Cesaire wrote this piece, it may well be one of the best things you'll read all year.
One final note: If you are wondering just what all the fuss is about, then this book is definately for you. Reading Cesaire will not only enlighten--it's one of those rare works that may even sensitize someone to injustice they may not care about, or may not even have noticed. In the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., Susan Brownmiller and Richard Mohr; Cesaire's *Discourse on Colonialism* is an eye-opener. It is one of those rare books that has the real potential to make one a morally better person.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Americans note! It's about you too. March 8 2002
As the previous reviewer (American) has stated this book is a powerful indictment of European colonialism. However, the author wrote this book in 1950s, the heyday of the independence movement against the 19th century European empires, i.e. Britain, France, Portugal, etc. and therefore that is its focus.
What is condemned here has also the epitome of U.S. policy and economic activity in the Third World for the last half century, so Americans should not think that this condemnation is about something other than many of the taken-for-granted policies of the American empire. The rhetorical tone of the book may ring as a bit dated to ears used to ignoring what goes on in minds and hearts not located in the First World, but the events of 9/11 may give them new relevance. One would hope so.
Historically this book was of great importance, and it deserves rereading today - especially in the U.S.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Power to the People Dec 4 2002
Discourse on Colonialism was a serious eye opener. Cesaire made me think about all of the horrible out comes colonialization produced. It was one of the best non-novel books I've read in years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential (post)colonial reading Jan. 15 2009
A beautifully and powerfully written anti-colonial manifesto and call to arms. Cesaire's poetic prose and polemic argument make Discourse on Colonialism a wonderful critical work.
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