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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - French

Undergraduate Course: The Francophone Black Radical Tradition (ELCF09042)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course engages with a history of Black radical ideas, which opposed slavery, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism in the French-speaking world. Starting from the intellectual consequences of the Haitian revolution, it follows the development of a global African revolutionary sensibility, expressing itself by political, philosophical, and poetic means simultaneously.
Course description African American political theorist Cedric Robinson coined the historiographic notion of the ¿Black Radical Tradition¿ in his 1983 book entitled Black Marxism. The concept designates the historically specific and culturally distinctive ways African-descended peoples opposed racism, capitalism, and dehumanization at large throughout modern era. Despite his deep interests in slave rebellions in South America and the Caribbean, as well as his fascination for the Haitian Revolution, Robinson considers that it is only in the 20th century and under the influence of European Marxism that the black radical tradition stopped being an underground and informal shared African worldview to become an actual movement of thought. To prove his point, he refers to three Anglophone Black towering figures: W.E.B Du Bois, Richard Wright, and C.L.R. James.

The first object of this course will be to offer an overview of the debates surrounding the definition of the Black radical tradition. Second, it will put Robinson¿s historiography to the test, confronting the notion Black radicalism to the genealogy of Francophone Black thought. Early 19th Century Haitian writings from Toussaint Louverture, Louis Boisrond-Tonnerre or the Baron de Vastey tend to show that Black radical political thought is by no means a recent phenomenon. Intellectual moments such as 19th Century Haitian political thought and philosophy, the négritude movement, Haitian and West African Marxisms, and Panafricanism will be unpacked throughout the semester.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Group Presentation (30%)
Essay plan (10%)
Essay (2000 words) (60%)
Feedback The feedback given to you throughout the course is designed to help you improve your future work: you will be given both formative and summative feedback. Formative parts of the assessment: you will receive feedback on your presentation, and more generally on your participation in class and engagement with the course.

You are also encouraged to highlight specific aspects you would particularly like to have feedback on. During the course, your tutor will take time to invite feedback about the course, and to give feedback on progress thus far. From week 8 onwards (or earlier if you wish), you will be able to bring along an essay plan in time for the feedback to be useful for the end-of-course essay. You will also be given summative feedback on your end-of-course essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the notion of the Black radical tradition as well as historiographic debates regarding the concept.
  2. Explain the main political tendencies within African diasporic thought, their differences and contentions.
  3. Understand the basics of francophone Black intellectual history as well as its relation to slavery, colonialism, and African traditions.
  4. Construct coherent arguments which engage effectively with the sources and the relevant contexts and to present them with a high level of clarity in both oral and written form.
  5. Demonstrate autonomy and initiative in their activities, carry out independent research under the guidance of the tutor, and to show awareness of their own and others' roles and responsibilities as part of a team
Reading List

Aimé Césaire, Discours sur le colonialisme, Paris, Présence Africaine, 2011.

René Depestre, Ainsi parle le fleuve noir, Paris, Paroles D¿Aube, 1998.

Frantz Fanon, Les Damnés de la Terre, Paris, La Découverte, 2004.

Jean-Price Mars, Ainsi parla l¿oncle, Montréal, Mémoire d¿encrier, 2021.

Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism: The making of the Black radical tradition, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Baron de Vastey, Le Système Colonial Dévoilé, Cap-Henry, P. Roux, 1814.


Jean-Jacques Cadet, Le Marxisme Haïtien, Paris, Delga, 2020.

Afua Cooper, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal, Athens, University of Georgia Press, 2006.

Toussaint Louverture, Mémoires du Général Toussaint Louverture, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2011.

Fred Moten, ¿The Subprime and the beautiful¿, African Identities, Vol. 11, No.2, 2013, pp. 237-245.

Lamine Senghor, La Violation d¿un pays et autres textes anticolonialistes, Paris, L¿Harmattan, 2012.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will have further developed their skills in the areas of research and enquiry, personal and intellectual autonomy, communication, and personal effectiveness. For further specification of these skills see the university¿s graduate and employability skills framework at
KeywordsBlack studies,African diaspora,Francophone literature,Africana philosophy
Course organiserDr Norman Ajari
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
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