Locating history within Fiction's Frame: Re-presenting the Epopée Delgrès in Maximin and Lara

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This essay examines contrasting but complementary narrative and filmic representations of the Guadeloupean resistance to Napoleon's attempt to reimpose a slavery regime in the French colonies. This underrepresented and under-analyzed event, one of landmark importance in the Caribbean tradition of rebellion and self-liberation, focuses our attention more closely on the extended arc of liberatory acts - inscribed in a variety of locations but always espousing the same goal - that mark the identitarian activities of Caribbean slaves almost from the inception of the colonial moment to the act of emancipation. In a large sense, the resistance to Napoleon's invading forces, although ultimately doomed to failure in Guadeloupe, emerged from and was shaped by the specificities of social, economic, and political structures that transformed Guadeloupe during this critical period, and was driven by principles of liberation and self-emancipation emerging from the path adopted by Guadeloupe's governor, Victor Hugues, and the various communities over which he presided. Resistance in Guadeloupe was a fight to preserve a way of life. Analyzing this resistance compels us to acknowledge individual and collective expressions of the idea and practice of freedom that were originally erased by those charged with constructing the colonial script, and draws attention to the still-marginal inscription of these events in contemporary culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-266
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of American Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 18 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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