Becoming a Global Citizen: Paulette Nardal’s Activism and Travels after 1945

Friday, January 8, 2016: 3:10 PM
Room 303 (Hilton Atlanta)
Imaobong Denis Umoren, University of Oxford
Martiniquan activist and intellectual, Paulette Nardal was an influential figure in interwar Paris writing in the newspaper La Dépêche Africaine, founding the journal La Revue du monde noir/ The Review of the Black World (1931-32) and establishing the Clamart salon, all of which were critical to the Negritude movement. In 1942, Nardal returned to Martinique and founded the middle class Martiniquan women’s organisation the Women’s Assembly and its journal La femme dans la Cité (1945-51). Throughout her writings and activism, Nardal explored a range of themes including the imperial relationship between France and Martinique, anti-fascism, black internationalism, and gendered racial politics. This paper shines new light on the overlooked Nardal, by exploring her activism, travel, and involvement with the United Nations after the Second World War. It argues that after the war, Martiniquan departmentalisation, although seen as a conservative force stemming the possibility of decolonisation, provided Nardal with increased opportunities to express her political views as a race woman and global citizen. By exploring Nardal beyond the interwar period, this paper highlights the important intersections between the fields of women’s, intellectual, and Caribbean history, as well as global black studies.