'A great gang of black and brown humanity': The lives and politics of African migrants in twentieth-century France: From vagabonds and transients to maritime labourers and intellectuals

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This chapter briefly traces the history of the Black and African diaspora in twentieth-century France, including by recounting how the instability of their migrant status compelled men and women in port cities such as Bordeaux and Marseille to form common political visions and sociocultural communities along docks and in bars. Using archival documents, newspapers and literature such as that of Claude McKay and Ousmane Sembène, this chapter shows how although they had very different linguistic, economic and geographical backgrounds, solidarity among Africans in France was made necessary by a common precarity and was made possible because African migrants found ways to construct and practise a diasporic blackness anchored in common histories of French colonization. Black and African migrants and citizens have continued to use similar political and sociocultural tactics into the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Thus, contemporary offshoots of earlier struggles to build networks and find ways to dwell comfortably in port cities even while resisting border controls, surveillance, and racism have remained firmly moored in common histories of (de)colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Francophone Africa
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781351142168
ISBN (Print)9780815350835
StatePublished - Oct 24 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences

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