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Title: 'Martinique is ours, not theirs!' : the contested post-colonial integration of Martinique into France
Author: Théodose, Celine Audrey Corinne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 0089
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis undertakes a close analysis of the integration of the post-colonial society of Martinique into the French nation-state. In 2009, a social movement in Martinique temporarily raised nationalist demands but also sought closer integration into the French state. This thesis examines how this integration has been thwarted by the specific colonial legacies of Martinique and by the politics of departmentalisation of the French state. The departmentalisation of Martinique, which occurred in 1946, sought to decolonise Martinique. This dissertation argues that it is impossible to achieve the integration of Martinique into France without addressing the economic and social legacies of colonialism. The reason for this is because such legacies make it impossible to create national unity. The departmentalisation of Martinique was a republican nationalist project which aimed to culturally assimilate and politically homogenise Martinique into the French state. However, despite departmentalisation, economic and social inequalities stemming from the colonial past remain, and still divide that society. Moreover, despite the legacy of colonial discourse, the Martiniquans stand firmly against political independence. The numerous nationalist and pro-independence parties that attempt to define and promote Martiniquan cultural identities fail to rally the population around the idea of independence. The very existence of these parties implies, on the other hand, that both cultural and republican nationalism failed to create and sustain a metadiscourse of community within the island. However, the 2009 movement was a golden site for observing and instigating social change because the protesters demonstrated and voiced a strong sense of collective identity and solidarity. The protesters contested both the failure of departmentalisation and the resilience of colonial discourses. Throughout the movement, the protesters challenged both the legitimacy of the French government and the influence of the Martiniquan nationalist parties on the protests. I argue that the protests created a liminal space through which the protesters voiced their individual and distinct personal histories and narratives. Such protests created an open space which allowed the protesters to individually address the resilience of colonial discourses and to contest its impacts on their lives, and on the Martiniquan society. I also argue that this liminal space was an integrative space, and the ultimate “rhetorical glue” that unified the protesters. This liminal space was exceptional in this sense, since the existing nationalist discourses and projects which have been implemented in Martinique tend to emphasise social divisions in the island. Indeed, assimilation does not allow the expressions of such cultural distinctiveness outside the French republican ideals. In addition, local nationalist parties attempting to build national unity through cultural discourse struggle to define the ambivalence and the ever-changing characteristics of post-colonial/hybrid Martiniquan identity. The findings could be useful to the formulation of Martiniquan political identity, and to the configuration of French integrative policies. I conclude that such policies would be effective if they tackled the lasting impact of colonial discourse in both Martinique and France.
Supervisor: Penrose, Jan ; MacDonald, Fraser Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: social movement ; protest ; Martinique ; Guadeloupe ; France ; nationalism ; Caribbean identity ; post-colonialism