Unsilencing the Haitian Revolution: C. L. R. James and The Black Jacobins

Douglas, R. (2022) Unsilencing the Haitian Revolution: C. L. R. James and The Black Jacobins. Atlantic Studies, 19(2), pp. 281-304. (doi: 10.1080/14788810.2020.1839283)

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Exploring the genesis, transformation and afterlives of The Black Jacobins, this article follows the revision trail of James’s evolving interest in Toussaint Louverture. How does James “show” as drama versus “tell” as history? Building on Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s idea of “silencing the past,” this article argues that James engages in an equally active and transitive reverse process of unsilencing the past. James’s own unsilencing of certain negative representations of the Haitian Revolution is evaluated, as is James’s move away from presenting the colonized as passive objects, instead turning them instead into active subjects. James should be recognized as a precursor to “history from below.” It uncovers James’s “writing in” of more popular leaders, masses and Haitian crowd scenes, of whom there is little archival trace. James’s own making of The Black Jacobins over nearly sixty years is linked to the process of rasanblaj (re-assembly, gathering) and the search for Caribbean identity.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under grant AH/I001662/1; the British Academy under grant SG-51932; and by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland under grant SRG031526.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Douglas, Dr Rachel
Authors: Douglas, R.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Journal Name:Atlantic Studies
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1740-4649
Published Online:19 November 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Atlantic Studies 19(2): 281-304
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
167595Rewriting the Haitian Revolution - C.L.R. James's The Black Jacobins in ContextRachel DouglasArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/I001662/1Arts - French