Sex, Sea, and Self

BookSex, Sea, and Self

Sex, Sea, and Self

Sexuality and Nationalism in French Caribbean Discourses, 1924-1948

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 81


November 1st, 2021



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Sex, Sea, and Self reassesses the place of the French Antilles and French Caribbean literature within current postcolonial thought and visions of the Black Atlantic. Using a feminist lens, this study examines neglected twentieth-century French texts by Black writers from Martinique and Guadeloupe, making the analysis of some of these texts available to readers of English for the first time. This interdisciplinary study of female and male authors reconsiders their political strategies and the critical role of French creoles in the creation of their own history. This approach recalibrates overly simplistic understandings of the victimization and alienation of French Caribbean people. In the systems of cultural production under consideration, sexuality constitutes an instrument of political and cultural consciousness in the chaotic period between 1924 and 1948. Studying sexual imagery constructed around female bodies demonstrates the significance of agency and the legacy of the past in cultural resistance and political awareness. Sex, Sea, and Self particularly highlights Antillean women intellectuals’ theoretical contributions to Caribbean critical theory. Therefore, this analysis illuminates debates on the multifaceted and conflicted relationships between France and its overseas departments and expands ideas of nationhood in the Black Atlantic and the Americas.

Sex, Sea and Self brings cutting-edge critical analyses of overlooked texts to a broad scholarly audience. It is a timely and original contribution to French Caribbean studies.”
Anny Dominique Curtius, University of Iowa

"Couti’s book is essential reading for students and scholars of French Caribbean literature from the early to mid twentieth century." Antonia Wimbush, French Studies

Author Information

Jacqueline Couti is Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Rice University, Houston, Texas.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Introduction – On ne vous a pas oubliés: Re-Scripting and (Re-)Gendering French Antillean Discourses
Part I – She Says: Nascent Black French Feminist Thought and the Theorization of “New” Epistomologies of Self from the Interwar Period to the Aftermath of Departmentalization
Chapter 1 – The Doudou Strikes Back: Dissecting Doudouisme during the Interwar Period
Chapter 2 – Transatlantic Women’s Voices: The Doudou Writes Back
Chapter 3 – Mayotte Capécia: From “I am Martinican” to “I am becoming French”
Part II – He Says: Black Male Recolonization of Space in the Tropics
Chapter 4 – Deconstruction of the White Creole Myth: Creole Desire and the Flip Side of the Coin
Chapter 5 – Whiteness and Masculinity Gone Wild: Impossible Redemption
Coda – Who Speaks for Whom?