The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties Montreal (Studies on the History of Quebec/Études d?histoire du Quebec)

The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties Montreal (Studies on the History of Quebec/Études d?histoire du Quebec)

Sean Mills

Language: English

Pages: 302

ISBN: 0773536957

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In a brilliant history of a turbulent time and place, Mills pulls back the curtain on the decade's activists and intellectuals, showing their engagement both with each other and with people from around the world. He demonstrates how activists of different backgrounds and with different political aims drew on ideas of decolonization to rethink the meanings attached to the politics of sex, race, and class and to imagine themselves as part of a broad transnational movement of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist resistance. The temporary unity forged around ideas of decolonization came undone in the 1970s, however, as many were forced to come to terms with the contradictions and ambiguities of applying ideas of decolonization in Quebec. From linguistic debates to labour unions, and from the political activities of citizens in the city's poorest neighbourhoods to its Caribbean intellectuals, The Empire Within is a political tour of Montreal that reconsiders the meaning and legacy of the city's dissident traditions. It is also a fascinating chapter in the history of postcolonial thought.

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work begins by dramatizing a Manichean split between the settler and the native, then proceeds to chart the birth of an independence movement, and finally moves on to outline the transformation of “that movement into what is in effect a trans-personal and trans-national force.”64 The opening chapter lays out in vivid detail the trauma and violence of colonization. In contrast to traditional Marxist understandings of capitalism, according to which power is lived in the temporal sphere by workers

women, that Montreal’s specific manifestation of feminism would become both possible and necessary. Parti Pris emerged from the historical conditions of the early 1960s, and, through its activities and intellectual work, it played a central role in creating a new language of resistance.74 The journal was an immediate success, and its editors were catapulted overnight from obscurity to relative fame.75 A whole generation of activists would come of age reading the journal and attending the

came to see that Vallières and other Quebeckers had understood the négritude movement at a profound level.81 As Césaire would later reflect, “Our movement was based in fact apparently on race but it went beyond that, beyond race. There was a cry, a universal human cry. It is not a triumphant glorious negritude. It isn’t that. It is negritude trodden on. The trodden-on Negro. The oppressed Negro. And it is the Negro rebel. That’s what negritude is. Our negritude. It is a humanization. And that is

Jones’s attempt to convey the psychological impact of racial oppression. He went on to draw similarities between Blacks and francophone Quebeckers, adding a message of his own: “that’s the way French Canadians feel.”45 Godin was so moved that he started planning to make a movie about Canadian Blacks.46 The congress undoubtedly had its greatest impact on a new generation of Black Montrealers. According to Barbara Jones, for them it was an “edifying experience,” and they came to realize that their

that the “Black Man is the personification of strength, power, peace and love; the ‘Father of Civilization,’” and even the very “essence of Manhood.”125 But while Black men were called forth to reclaim their virility, Black women were expected to assume a passive role. True, women had been involved in Black politics from the start. The 1967–68 Caribbean Conference Bulletin highlighted the work of Anne Cools, Bridget Joseph, Gloria Simmons, and Jean Depradine as “the living indication that the

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