Race, citizenship, and antillean student activism in Postwar France, 1946-1968


In 1946, the French Antilles were "assimilated" to France as constituent departments of the Republic. With assimilation, hundreds of Antilleans traveled to France to attend college, university, and technical schools. When they arrived in the metropole, they were confronted by racism, discrimination, and "incomprehension," confined to immigrant quarters, refused lodging and service, and even attacked by far-right activists. This article examines how the encounter with the racial reality of postwar France radicalized a generation of Antillean students. These students formed organizations, from Catholic student groups to militant youth organizations, that questioned the gains of assimilation, the realities of French citizenship, and their own cultural and social identities. Former student militants would go on to play an important role in both Antillean politics and in Antillean culture. Copyright 2014 by Society for French Historical Studies.

Publication Title

French Historical Studies