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The Writing of Aime Cesaire

The Martinique writer's poetry, politics, and ideas on anti-colonialism and black consciousness

His stinging critique of European colonial racism and hypocrisy Discours sur le Colonialisme was first published in 1950. How does it resonate today? A founder of the Négritude movement, Aimé Césaire (26 June 1913 – 17 April 2008) also wrote poetry and a biography of Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture. To discuss the influence of Césaire's writing, Rana Mitter is joined by Sudhir Hazareesingh, who has just published his own biography of Toussaint; New Generation Thinker Alexandra Reza, from the University of Oxford; and Jason Allen-Paisant who lectures in Caribbean Poetry and Decolonial Thought at the University of Leeds.

Black Spartacus: The Epic Life Of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh is out now and will be read as a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 from 16 November. Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh, who teaches the University of Oxford, has also written How the French Think. You can hear him in this Free Thinking episode

Alexandra Reza teaches post-colonial literature at the University of Oxford and is a New Generation Thinker - a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council that selects ten academics each year to turn their research into radio.

Writing by Jason Allen-Paisant has been published in Granta, PN Review, Callaloo, and Carcanet’s New Poetries Series VIII, among other places

This episode is linked to BBC Radio 3's residency at London's Southbank Centre and the BBC Culture in Quarantine initiative

You can find other episodes devoted to influential books, plays, films, and art in a Free Thinking playlist called Landmarks of Culture, which includes the writing of Wole Soyinka, Audre Lorde, Susan Sontag, and Rachael Carson. You can find it on the Free Thinking programme website and all are available to download as Arts & Ideas podcasts.

Producer: Emma Wallace

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44 minutes