“Toussaint Louverture: A French hero?” [Today]

Today (November 18, 2020) at 3:30pm, Fondation pour la Mémoire de l’Esclavage (FME) presents « Toussaint Louverture, un héros français? » [Toussaint Louverture, a French hero?] a live conversation (on the Facebook account of the FME) between British historian Sudhir Hazareesingh (Oxford University), specialist in the representations of men of power in France, and blogger Kevi Donat (Le Tchip, Le Paris Noir), around Hazareesingh’s biography on Toussaint Louverture (Flammarion, 2020).

Who was Toussaint, the leader of the rebellious slaves of Santo Domingo? Was he a general? Was he a statesman? Was he a thinker of the Enlightenment? Was he the “first black superhero”? Why is he not better known in France? What does he have to tell us today?

[In partnership with Pôle Outre-mer France Télévisions and Outremers 360.]


7 thoughts on ““Toussaint Louverture: A French hero?” [Today]

  1. Hero-ization is facile at best, yet even then is juvenile, and when done through an imposition of nationalism incredibly dangerous. That Toussaint Louverture is even proceeded as hero is already a serious hindrance to historical scholarship, effectively stripping him of revolutionary potential and marking him as a palatable Mandela type figure reduced into a symbol of buffoonery for marketing purposes. And in a naming a single hero, all those others who participated in revolutionary action, their bodies and minds on the line, are silenced and excised from the concept of hero. Even more so in relation to France, as France has no ‘heroes’ and while it strives to be modern, a large part of France does, it always fails. France is decidedly caught up in profiting off its colonial history, through monetary policies, including how currency from former colonies is filtered through its institutions, and of course through the ‘nazi-fication’ heavy handedness of Euro currency policy as set through Germany, a Germany that in a just world would not exist. France may be the land of incredible engagement with terroir, yet it is also the land of horrific crusades, from the attacks on Cathars in Occitanie to the brutal cannibalism of the crusades on Palestine, to the current Sarkozy style bombing of Africa and Macron’s sniffly pontifications on Lebanon. France, as France the entity, easily capitulated to Nazi occupation, and it was queers, feminists and communists who saved it from itself. France, as France the entity, produced a 2 part tv series on Toussaint that presented him as a black man lusting after a white women, a horrific stereotype who even killed his own nephew (or relative, as I haven’t watched it in some years) over the disagreement. That is not a mature France, certainly not one capable of naming heroes.

    1. And lest we all not see what’s unfolding before our very eyes, France is in the process of not only criminalizing dissent, yet also reporters and journalists who document the dissent … frightening happenings

      1. And for the love of Beelzebub, please, please assess what is referenced by The Enlightenment, as no such period exists. Were it not for some privileged 17th century women who experimented with ways to free their voices and present ideas of harmonious engagement of beings, animate and otherwise, there would be no concept of The Enlightenment. Women who were quickly drowned out by a select set of men intent on shifting their own lust for control into a language that made it seem they cared for free selves interacting with other free selves, while designing further systems of corporal control and punishment for the goal of enrichment and the enforcement of terror, which they found enjoyable and profitable. Even the archivist Roy Porter clearly exposed the fallacy of The Enlightenment.

  2. Thank you for posting these announcements. Responding, yes into an abyss of sorts, is nonetheless incredibly therapeutic.
    What passes for academic inquiry is sadly predictable, especially when performed by black and brown engagers as they have to work so much harder at it …
    While when in a rush there may be calculated dismissals or deferrals of thought, this is purportedly his freakin’ work, so what is it that lurks in the positioning of the questions … an appeal to violent ‘white’ inferiority complexes will never help him, because that only elevates the UKian Boris Johnsons and Keir Starmers, coloniality through and through their mushy one pea brains, a shared one, intent on oppressing their ‘own’ people and chaining everyone else – yet what is it that pounds through the questions as they are posed:
    They are all telling, yet the first is most mired in convoluted oppressiveness – “Who was Toussaint, the leader of the rebellious slaves of Santo Domingo?”
    While some of those who engaged, resisted and fought with Toussaint were enslaved, others had freed themselves or were born outside of enslavement. By presenting all the actors as “slaves,” an insidious historical amnesia is imposed. Reducing them into a description of “rebellious” makes the revolutionaries sound as though they were petulant teenagers. And if Hazareesingh can only understand revolutionaries through their enslaved state, he should address who is doing the enslaving, as in what is their purported region, and what is their declared ethnicity.
    And even if Hazareesingh can only see black people in Haiti through the violent historical distortion of slavery, the “slaves” he references were couturiers, chefs, forgers, farmers, poets … at least take a moment to engage in a historiography that strives for more accuracy instead of one that endlessly repeats colonial blather, only serving to normalize the violence of that history …

  3. While Oxford, as a purported site of academic study and inquiry, is mired in a set of facile traps designed to stymie critical thought, traps that are pushed as tradition, shouldn’t the Politics and History programs have progressed into what has been transformative since the 1970’s when the ‘great man’ theories of history were thoroughly debunked. I mean, they may not be as egregious as Harvard Law that openly promoted the exposed plagiarist Dershowitz (exposed thanks to thorough investigations by Finkelstein), an institution that somehow graduated the comically backwards minds of Schiff and the many others who believe the Hamilton play by Miranda is culturally significant and not abject schlock to laugh at, so enough said, yet since the ‘browning’ of academia have been hurtling themselves into a frenetic corner of conspiratorial thought promoting the most egregious ‘white’ inferiority complexes.

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