Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Of Colonized Mind and Matter: The Dis/Abilities of Negritude in Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2010), 4, (3), 291–308.

Abstract

The article analyzes Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal in order to demonstrate the varied uses of ability and disability in the written works of the Negritude movement, and specifically how disability, seen as a state acquired via colonialism, gains a negatively charged status. It argues that Cahier's decolonizing call for freedom is accomplished through an ableist rhetoric that equates being free with a nondisabled act of standing, as well as through a disparate association of men with disability and women with ability. The article realizes this argument by reading the varied norm-based dis/abilities Cahier associates with male and female figures. The disabilities in the male figures arise from colonialism, and the recurrent disabled site is the mind, with consequent ramifications for the matter (body). This phenomenon produces what, in the article, are termed psychocorporeal disabilities, which are together both physical and psychological. The singular female in the text is nondisabled, and her mind is overlooked for her essential bio-capacity to produce. The article makes the claim that Cahier, as a text of the liberation-based Negritude movement, realizes its goals in part through a reductive, normative disability-based construction of others, thereby undeniably dismantling one hierarchy (colonial), while unwittingly reaffirming others (gender, disability).

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Arendt, Hannah. On Revolution. New York: Viking P, 1970. On Revolution. Google Scholar

Arnold, A. James. "Beyond Postcolonial Césaire: Reading Cahier d'un retour au pays natal Historically." Forum for Modern Language Studies 44.3 (2008): 258–75. Beyond Postcolonial Césaire: Reading Cahier d'un retour au pays natal Historically Forum for Modern Language Studies 44 258 75 Google Scholar

Arnold, A. James. "Césaire is Dead: Long Live Césaire! Recuperations and Reparations." French Politics, Culture and Society 27.3 (2009): 9–18. Césaire is Dead: Long Live Césaire! Recuperations and Reparations French Politics, Culture and Society 27 9 18 Google Scholar

Biard, François-Auguste. L'abolition de l'esclavage: 27 avril 1848. Second quarter of the nineteenth century. Joconde: Catalogue des collections des musées de France. Ministère de la culture. Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." New York: Routledge, 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." Google Scholar

Césaire, Aimé. 2004 interview by Françoise Vergès. Aimé Césaire: Nègre je suis, nègre je resterai. Paris: Albin Michel, 2005. Google Scholar

Césaire, Aimé. Cahier d'un retour au pays natal. 1939. Paris: Présence africaine, 1983. Google Scholar

Césaire, Aimé. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. Trans. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2001. Google Scholar

Condé, Maryse. La parole des femmes: Essai sur des romancières des Antilles de langue française. Paris: L'Harmattan, 1993. La parole des femmes: Essai sur des romancières des Antilles de langue française. Google Scholar

Damas, Léon Gontran. "Hoquet." Pigments. 1937. Paris: Présence africaine, 1962. Google Scholar

Damas, Léon Gontran. Retour de Guyane. Paris: José Corti, 1938. Retour de Guyane. Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. Bending over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and other Difficult Positions. New York: New York UP, 2002. Bending over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and other Difficult Positions. Google Scholar

Eshleman, Clayton, and Annette Smith. "Introduction." Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry. Trans. Eshleman and Smith. Berkeley: U of California P, 1983. 1–31. Google Scholar

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1982. Google Scholar

Fanon, Frantz. Peau noire, masques blancs. Paris: Seuil, 1952. Peau noire, masques blancs. Google Scholar

Finn, Julio. "The Black Woman as Symbol of The Negritude Aesthetic." Voice of Negritude. London: Quartet, 1988. 172–84. The Black Woman as Symbol of The Negritude Aesthetic Voice of Negritude 172 84 Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. Google Scholar

Gilroy, Paul. Postcolonial Melancholia. New York: Columbia UP, 2005. Postcolonial Melancholia. Google Scholar

Julien, Eileen. "Avatars of the Feminine in Laye, Senghor, and Diop." From Dante to García Márquez: Studies in Romance Literatures and Linguistics. Ed. Gene H. Bell-Villada, Antonio Giménez and George Pistorous. Williamstown: Williams College, 1987. 336–48. Avatars of the Feminine in Laye, Senghor, and Diop From Dante to García Márquez: Studies in Romance Literatures and Linguistics 336 48 Google Scholar

Kalikoff, Hedy. "Gender, Genre and Geography in Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal." Callaloo 18.2 (1995): 492–505. Gender, Genre and Geography in Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal. Callaloo 18 492 505 Google Scholar

Kudlick, Catherine. "Disability History: Why We Need Another 'Other.'" The American Historical Review 108.3 (2003): 763–93. Disability History: Why We Need Another 'Other.' The American Historical Review 108 763 93 Google Scholar

Manderson, Lenore, and Susan Peake. "Men in Motion: Disability and the Performance of Masculinity." Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance. Ed. Carrie Sandahl and Philip Auslander. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2005. 230–42. Men in Motion: Disability and the Performance of Masculinity Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance 230 42 Google Scholar

Mangin, Charles. La force noire. Paris: Hachette, 1910. La force noire. Google Scholar

Mishra, Vijay, and Bob Hodge. "What is Post(-)colonialism?" Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader. Ed. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman. New York: Columbia UP, 1994. 276–90. What is Post(-)colonialism? Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader 276 90 Google Scholar

Mudimbe, V.Y. L'odeur du père. Essai sur des limites de la science et de la vie en Afrique noire. Paris: Présence africaine, 1982. L'odeur du père. Essai sur des limites de la science et de la vie en Afrique noire. Google Scholar

Mudimbe, V.Y. The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1988. The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge. Google Scholar

Nesbitt, Nick. Voicing Memory: History and Subjectivity in French Caribbean Literature. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2003. Voicing Memory: History and Subjectivity in French Caribbean Literature. Google Scholar

Pineau, Gisèle, and Marie Abraham. Femmes des Antilles: Traces et voix. Paris: Stock, 1998. Femmes des Antilles: Traces et voix. Google Scholar

"Pourquoi sommes-nous infériorisés?" La Voix des nègres January 1927: 2. Cooperative Africana Microform Project; The Center for Research Libraries. Google Scholar

Rabbitt, Kara M. "Suzanne Césaire's Significance for the Forging of a New Caribbean Literature." The French Review 79.3 (2006): 538–48. Suzanne Césaire's Significance for the Forging of a New Caribbean Literature The French Review 79 538 48 Google Scholar

Rosello, Mireille. "Introduction." Notebook of a Return to My Native Land. Aimé Césaire. Trans. Rosello. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1995. 9–68. Google Scholar

Senghor, Léopold Sédar. "Ce que l'homme noir apporte." 1939. Liberté. Vol. 1. Paris: Seuil, 1964. 22–38. Google Scholar

Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. Negritude Women. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2002. Negritude Women. Google Scholar

Stiker, Henri-Jacques. Corps infirmes et sociétés. Paris: Aubier Montaigne, 1982. Corps infirmes et sociétés. Google Scholar

Tettenborn, Eva. "Melancholia as Resistance in Contemporary African American Literature." MELUS 31.3 (2006): 101–21. Melancholia as Resistance in Contemporary African American Literature MELUS 31 101 21 Google Scholar

Arendt, Hannah. On Revolution. New York: Viking P, 1970. On Revolution. Google Scholar

Arnold, A. James. "Beyond Postcolonial Césaire: Reading Cahier d'un retour au pays natal Historically." Forum for Modern Language Studies 44.3 (2008): 258–75. Beyond Postcolonial Césaire: Reading Cahier d'un retour au pays natal Historically Forum for Modern Language Studies 44 258 75 Google Scholar

Arnold, A. James. "Césaire is Dead: Long Live Césaire! Recuperations and Reparations." French Politics, Culture and Society 27.3 (2009): 9–18. Césaire is Dead: Long Live Césaire! Recuperations and Reparations French Politics, Culture and Society 27 9 18 Google Scholar

Biard, François-Auguste. L'abolition de l'esclavage: 27 avril 1848. Second quarter of the nineteenth century. Joconde: Catalogue des collections des musées de France. Ministère de la culture. Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." New York: Routledge, 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." Google Scholar

Césaire, Aimé. 2004 interview by Françoise Vergès. Aimé Césaire: Nègre je suis, nègre je resterai. Paris: Albin Michel, 2005. Google Scholar

Césaire, Aimé. Cahier d'un retour au pays natal. 1939. Paris: Présence africaine, 1983. Google Scholar

Césaire, Aimé. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. Trans. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2001. Google Scholar

Condé, Maryse. La parole des femmes: Essai sur des romancières des Antilles de langue française. Paris: L'Harmattan, 1993. La parole des femmes: Essai sur des romancières des Antilles de langue française. Google Scholar

Damas, Léon Gontran. "Hoquet." Pigments. 1937. Paris: Présence africaine, 1962. Google Scholar

Damas, Léon Gontran. Retour de Guyane. Paris: José Corti, 1938. Retour de Guyane. Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. Bending over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and other Difficult Positions. New York: New York UP, 2002. Bending over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and other Difficult Positions. Google Scholar

Eshleman, Clayton, and Annette Smith. "Introduction." Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry. Trans. Eshleman and Smith. Berkeley: U of California P, 1983. 1–31. Google Scholar

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1982. Google Scholar

Fanon, Frantz. Peau noire, masques blancs. Paris: Seuil, 1952. Peau noire, masques blancs. Google Scholar

Finn, Julio. "The Black Woman as Symbol of The Negritude Aesthetic." Voice of Negritude. London: Quartet, 1988. 172–84. The Black Woman as Symbol of The Negritude Aesthetic Voice of Negritude 172 84 Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. Google Scholar

Gilroy, Paul. Postcolonial Melancholia. New York: Columbia UP, 2005. Postcolonial Melancholia. Google Scholar

Julien, Eileen. "Avatars of the Feminine in Laye, Senghor, and Diop." From Dante to García Márquez: Studies in Romance Literatures and Linguistics. Ed. Gene H. Bell-Villada, Antonio Giménez and George Pistorous. Williamstown: Williams College, 1987. 336–48. Avatars of the Feminine in Laye, Senghor, and Diop From Dante to García Márquez: Studies in Romance Literatures and Linguistics 336 48 Google Scholar

Kalikoff, Hedy. "Gender, Genre and Geography in Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal." Callaloo 18.2 (1995): 492–505. Gender, Genre and Geography in Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal. Callaloo 18 492 505 Google Scholar

Kudlick, Catherine. "Disability History: Why We Need Another 'Other.'" The American Historical Review 108.3 (2003): 763–93. Disability History: Why We Need Another 'Other.' The American Historical Review 108 763 93 Google Scholar

Manderson, Lenore, and Susan Peake. "Men in Motion: Disability and the Performance of Masculinity." Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance. Ed. Carrie Sandahl and Philip Auslander. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2005. 230–42. Men in Motion: Disability and the Performance of Masculinity Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance 230 42 Google Scholar

Mangin, Charles. La force noire. Paris: Hachette, 1910. La force noire. Google Scholar

Mishra, Vijay, and Bob Hodge. "What is Post(-)colonialism?" Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader. Ed. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman. New York: Columbia UP, 1994. 276–90. What is Post(-)colonialism? Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader 276 90 Google Scholar

Mudimbe, V.Y. L'odeur du père. Essai sur des limites de la science et de la vie en Afrique noire. Paris: Présence africaine, 1982. L'odeur du père. Essai sur des limites de la science et de la vie en Afrique noire. Google Scholar

Mudimbe, V.Y. The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1988. The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge. Google Scholar

Nesbitt, Nick. Voicing Memory: History and Subjectivity in French Caribbean Literature. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2003. Voicing Memory: History and Subjectivity in French Caribbean Literature. Google Scholar

Pineau, Gisèle, and Marie Abraham. Femmes des Antilles: Traces et voix. Paris: Stock, 1998. Femmes des Antilles: Traces et voix. Google Scholar

"Pourquoi sommes-nous infériorisés?" La Voix des nègres January 1927: 2. Cooperative Africana Microform Project; The Center for Research Libraries. Google Scholar

Rabbitt, Kara M. "Suzanne Césaire's Significance for the Forging of a New Caribbean Literature." The French Review 79.3 (2006): 538–48. Suzanne Césaire's Significance for the Forging of a New Caribbean Literature The French Review 79 538 48 Google Scholar

Rosello, Mireille. "Introduction." Notebook of a Return to My Native Land. Aimé Césaire. Trans. Rosello. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1995. 9–68. Google Scholar

Senghor, Léopold Sédar. "Ce que l'homme noir apporte." 1939. Liberté. Vol. 1. Paris: Seuil, 1964. 22–38. Google Scholar

Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. Negritude Women. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2002. Negritude Women. Google Scholar

Stiker, Henri-Jacques. Corps infirmes et sociétés. Paris: Aubier Montaigne, 1982. Corps infirmes et sociétés. Google Scholar

Tettenborn, Eva. "Melancholia as Resistance in Contemporary African American Literature." MELUS 31.3 (2006): 101–21. Melancholia as Resistance in Contemporary African American Literature MELUS 31 101 21 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Flaugh, Christian