AbstractsGeography &GIS


Aimé Césaire (1913–2008) is an acclaimed surrealist poet and anti-colonialist known in the world of letters as one of the founders of the Negritude movement. Furthermore, for more than half a century he was also the political leader of his “native land” Martinique, an island in the Caribbean politically integrated into France as an overseas département and région. Building on six months of fieldwork in Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique, this thesis centers on the creation of the legacy of Aimé Césaire, analyzed as a network. It probes into the tangled processes in which a person’s more or less material remains – his body, his body of texts, his political ideas, his image, his works and actions, and memories of him – flow, transform and form the basis of interpretations and enactments with different objectives, and at the same time, how Césaire’s legacy is constituted and continuously emerging through these interpretations, materializations, enactments and embodiments. Through a focus on three interconnected contexts: the political sphere, two urban neighborhoods, and the French-Martiniquan relation, I attempt to show that multivocality and multiplicity characterize the creation of this legacy. Moreover, although my perspective on the legacy of Césaire emphasizes its dynamic, open and relational shape, I argue that much of the enactments, interpretations and materializations I attend to in this thesis work toward fixing, closing and reifying the legacy of Césaire: to the consolidation of Aimé Césaire as a national hero in Martinique. This heroization is discussed in relation to its wider postcolonial and West Indian frame of reference.