A Colony of Citizens
Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804
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Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Cloth/Hardcover Publication Date: 03/2004
Cloth ISBN: 9780807828748
DescriptionThe idea of universal rights is often understood as the product of Europe, but as Laurent Dubois demonstrates, it was profoundly shaped by the struggle over slavery and citizenship in the French Caribbean. Dubois examines this Caribbean revolution by focusing on Guadeloupe, where, in the early 1790s, insurgents on the island fought for equality and freedom and formed alliances with besieged Republicans. In 1794, slavery was abolished throughout the French Empire, ushering in a new colonial order in which all people, regardless of race, were entitled to the same rights.
But French administrators on the island combined emancipation with new forms of coercion and racial exclusion, even as newly freed slaves struggled for a fuller freedom. In 1802, the experiment in emancipation was reversed and slavery was brutally reestablished, though rebels in Saint-Domingue avoided the same fate by defeating the French and creating an independent Haiti.
The political culture of republicanism, Dubois argues, was transformed through this transcultural and transatlantic struggle for liberty and citizenship. The slaves-turned-citizens of the French Caribbean expanded the political possibilities of the Enlightenment by giving new and radical content to the idea of universal rights.
About The AuthorLaurent Dubois is professor of history and Romance studies at Duke University. He is author of Les esclaves de la Republique: l'histoire oubliee de la premiere emancipation, 1789-1794.
ReviewsA milestone in the ever-expanding historiography of Atlantic slave emancipation. . . . Exhaustively researched, richly detailed, and superbly written.--The International Journal of African Historical Studies
An outstanding contribution to Caribbean historiography and Dubois has arguably written one of the best monographs on the Age of Revolution to date.--Estudios Interdisciplinarios de America Latina y el Caribe
An impressive, erudite and engaging work. . . . Will undoubtedly be considered provocative. . . . Meticulously researched and well-written. . . . Exemplary. . . . Makes a significant contribution to Atlantic history.--The Southern Quarterly
A rich and important study on Guadeloupe . . . during the Revolutionary period. . . . An extended and subtle analysis of the changing meaning of republicanism and race. Opens the door to such future research, and not just fills the gap in the historiography but firmly places the question of the universality of the Revolution at the forefront of historical research.--Latin America and the Carribbean
Elegantly written and meticulously researched . . . will be regarded as the standard account for some time to come. . . . Dubois has done a marvelous job.--William and Mary Quarterly
An inherently fascinating tale, and one rich in significance for our understanding of the history and legacies of slavery and racism, revolution and enlightenment, and democracy and human rights. . . . Beautifully written and exhaustively researched. . . . One hopes that . . . the book will be read across the traditional geographic boundaries of the academy.--The Americas
In this impressive work, Dubois reveals a world of ideas and conflicts that will astonish even most specialists of eighteenth-century history. One of the most informative works of history [I] have read in a long time.--American Historical Review
Laurent Dubois has given us a fascinating account of the revolution in Guadaloupe. . . . Merits the attention, not only of a few readers in the rather limited field of French Caribbean studies, but of a broader audience interested in Atlantic revolutions, slavery and abolition, the genesis of human rights, or even just a mighty lively story.--H-Caribbean
A Colony of Citizens, based on much original research, at last enables us to assess the true importance of battles in the Eastern Caribbean.--The Nation
Dubois convincingly argues that no history of the Age of Revolution or of human rights is adequate without including the actions of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Caribbean, who fought for emancipation and against racism. An important, thoughtful, and eloquent book. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice