Beauvoir’s White Problem
[La traduction française de cet article sera bientôt disponible]
by T Storm Heter
Professor of Philosophy at East Stroudsburg University, PA, he is currently writing a book on « The Problem of White Listening ». T Storm Heter is also guest-editing a special issue of Sartre Studies International on « Existentialism and Anti-racism » to be published very soon.
Beauvoir problematized whiteness, but whiteness was a problem for her. In calling attention to “Beauvoir’s white problem,” I am drawing on Lauren Du Graf’s recent essay “Existentialism’s white problem,” in which she asks:
is “existentialism is a white club”? (Du Graf, 2020: 135)
I am also paraphrasing Margaret A. Simons, who writes
“Beauvoir’s understanding of racism is central to her philosophical project in The Second Sex; but racism and ethnocentrism are also problems for her.” (Simons, 2002: 271)
As the popular press in France debates the mere existence of the category of whiteness (blanchité), scholars are debating whether Beauvoir’s feminism is a white feminism, exclusionary of the concerns of women of color. Much of this academic debate centers on the important work of Kathryn Sophia Belle.
Famously, in The Second Sex, Beauvoir repeats Richard Wright’s claim that, “In America there is no black problem, only a white one.” At the heart of Beauvoir’s account of sexism is her analogy between anti-Blackness, antisemitism and the oppression of women.
“Just as anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, it’s our problem, so the problem of woman has always been a problem of men.”1 (Beauvoir, 1949: 222)
The key claim of “the white problem,” as developed by Africana existential thinkers, is that whiteness poses ontological, epistemological, and ethical problems. The white problem reverses the oppressive tactic of pathologizing the Black and/or Jewish other. Focusing on Black and Jewish people as the Others to white people is not arbitrary, but corresponds to the history of “la question juive” in France, “die jüdishe Frage” in Germany, and “the Negro problem” in the United States. (Judaken, 2009)
Christiane Taubira, member of the French National Assembly, deputy from Guiana, restated the white problem in 2020:
“How to teach the world?
There is no ‘Black question.’ Neither in France nor elsewhere… But there is a white issue with regard to indifference.” (Taubira, 2012: ix)
In France today there is intense discussion in the popular press over blanchité and race. In June 2020 the French writer Virginie Despentes wrote an open letter to her white friends. Like anti-racist and #BlackLivesMatter activists across the globe, Despentes pointed to the over-representation of Black people and Arab people in French prisons, the lack of political representation of minorities, police brutality against Black people, and her white privilege. In Le Monde the politician Corinne Narassiguin shot back: “I am a black woman… I am against the concept of ‘white privilege.’” In “White Privilege, Dangerous Nonsense,” Narassiguin accuses French anti-racists like Despentes of imposing the concept of whiteness on a French reality, where it has no bearing. Simon Grivet, a lecturer in American Studies, replied to Narassiguin in Le Monde, noting the similarity of the murders of George Floyd and Adama Traoré, arguing “Thinking about ‘whiteness’ and its privileges is as vital as analyzing class or gender relations.”
Blanchité is a neologism in France. It usually appears in scare quotes. In a Slate.Fr article last year the anti-racist author Rokhaya Diallo explained, “whiteness has nothing to do with skin color.” French Journalist Chloé Leprince wrote in 2019 “In the academic world, the term [whiteness] is slowly taking root, in French as in English.” Horia Kebabza, concurs: the “old question of the social relations of sex, class and ‘race’ is currently the subject of renewed interest in France.” (Kebabza, 2006)
As Sylvie Laurent and Thierry Leclère argue in De quelle couleur sont les blancs ? (Laurent, Leclère: 2013) public debates in France over the terms race and whiteness are not going away; in fact they may be just starting.2
Among Africana philosophers of existence, the white problem has been formulated as a problem of reality, knowledge, and value. Whiteness allows whites to invert reality, evade knowledge of themselves and others, and flee from moral responsibility for white violence. In Darkwater W.E.B. Du Bois asks, “But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?” (Du Bois: 1920) Frantz Fanon admonishes,
“Let us have the courage to say it: It is the racist who creates its inferior.” (Fanon, 1952: 69)
In Lewis R. Gordon’s variation,
“The white problem…is that there doesn’t seem to be any salvation for whites in a racist world once racism is admitted to be oppressive.” (Gordon, 1995: 27)
Gordon notes that in all of these formulations whiteness is understood as a form of death.3 (Gordon, 1995: 26)
Formulations of the white problem also appear in the work of Jean-Paul Sartre and James Baldwin. (Gordon, 1997: 153) As Kathryn Sophia Belle has argued, it was during her time with Richard Wright in America that Beauvoir adopted the framework of the white problem. (Belle, 2011) Beauvoir’s 1948 travel narrative America Day by Day is a key text in her phenomenology of oppression. Belle has extensively studied the relationship between white, European existentialists and critical theories of gender and race in Black existential thought. In her now classic paper from 2010, “Sartre, Beauvoir, and the Race/Gender Analogy: A Case for Black Feminist Philosophy,” Belle concludes,
“Unfortunately, while Beauvoir and Sartre do recognize problems of white privilege, neither of them explicitly engages black women intellectuals or a black feminist analysis.” (Belle, 2010: 59)
Belle’s analysis hit a nerve with white existentialists.
In Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question Belle explains that Wright’s idea “negates the conceptualization of Black people as a problem and the notion that anti-Black racism is Black people’s problem.” (Belle, 2014: 2) Whiteness, and white people’s anti-Black racism is the problem. Belle reminds us not to conflate racism or sexism or antisemitism or colonialism to the same othering force. In a symposium on her work in 2014, “Comparative and Competing Frameworks of Oppression in Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex,” Belle elaborates her position and responds to comments by Nancy Bauer, Sabine Broeck, Penelope Deutscher, and Stephanie Rivera Berruz. (Belle [Gines], 2014) These exchanges are intense and necessary.
Beauvoir was a global intellectual who travelled the world lecturing and learning. Her ethics of anti-oppression has global implications, as is clear from debate over whiteness by Beauvoir scholars from different national contexts. Being a world traveler was not incidental to Beauvoir. Tourism was the vehicle through which she came to understanding herself as white.
Readers of American Day by Day have focused on Beauvoir’s dawning white double consciousness when she experienced Black looks of Americans. (Black Looks is the title of bell hooks’ infamous 1992 collection of essays.4) Beauvoir experienced Black looks in Harlem, the American South and to a lesser degree, in Indigenous communities in the West. Sonia Kruks writes of Beauvoir’s “startling discovery of her own whiteness.” (Kruks, 2012: 74) Robert Bernasconi stresses Beauvoir’s “self-transformation” as she “came to an understanding of her own racial prejudices.” (Bernasconi, 2019: 151) In The Future of Whiteness Linda Martín Alcoff highlights Beauvoir’s experience of white double consciousness imposed by the eyes of angry Black children and women in Harlem. Alcoff argues that white double consciousness begins when white people confront their role in colonialism, genocide, slavery and the “ongoing practices of white supremacy.” (Alcoff, 2015: 168-177) Simons emphasizes how Beauvoir struggled with the “arrogant eye of colonialism,” while trying to grasp the similarity of the oppression of “Jews, blacks and women.” (Simons, 2002: 75). Kate Kirkpatrick writes of Beauvoir that “The Wrights helped her see segregation.” (Kirkpatrick, 2019: 233-4)
Instead of reading American Day by Day according to the gene of the white confessional, or what Audrey Thompson calls “personal narratives of whiteness,” (Engles, 2006: 54) I offer a different lens: the colonial travel narrative. In Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation Mary Louise Pratt shows how travel books by Europeans “went (and go) about creating the ‘domestic subject’ of Euroimperialism.” (Pratt, 1992: 4) According to Katharine S. Bullard, the “genre of travel and adventure writing” was essential in solidifying empire.5 (Bullard, 2012: 12)
Reading American Day by Day as a colonial travel narrative moves the problem of whiteness out of the psychological. Focusing on the psychological growth of white people confronting their personal privileges can reinforce white institutionality. Ironically, as Sara Ahmed notes “Institutional whiteness can be reproduced by the logic of diversity.” (Ahmed, 2012: 44)
Nathalie Nya, in her recent Simone de Beauvoir and the Colonial Experience, writes:
“I refer to Beauvoir as a colonizer women or colon, in the French, in order to emphasize the weight of French colonialism on Beauvoir’s identity as a white French woman.” (Nya, 2019: 42)
Nya reveals the tensions between Beauvoir’s avowed anti-colonialism and her situation as white, as colon. The critique of Beauvoir is not personal–all France’s white citizens were colons, Nya notes. (Nya, 2019: 190)
Beauvoir was a colonial tourist in both America and Africa. She used “imperial eyes” in describing non-white people in America Day by Day and The Force of Circumstances. Non-white women are described through colonial tropes of darkness, beauty, mystery, and ineffability. Muslim women and men are caricatured. On her first trip to the continent in 1946 she describes falling asleep on a sand dune and waking to find a “very dirty, old Arab” sitting on her.6 (Beauvoir, 1963: 1131) She writes that in the presence of white, European women, Muslim men’s “loins cry out.”7 (Beauvoir, 1963: 1153) She describes Tunisian women as “thirsting” for the “freedom” of European fashion and no head covering.8 (Beauvoir, 1963: 1143) She is fascinated with “l’Afrique Noire,” but disappointed that the Black people she meets are “very closed.” As in Harlem, she experiences white double consciousness when she is “not looked at favorably.”9 (Beauvoir, 1963: 4183) With French explorer Henri Lhote as her guide, she meets local women, comparing the “beautiful Negresses” who “reveal their shoulders, their breast, and laughter,” to the “veiled phantoms” of Northern Algeria.10 (Beauvoir, 1963: 4259)
These passages echo her descriptions of Black women in Harlem. As I discuss in my book The Problem of White Listening (Rowman & Littlefield International, forthcoming 2021) in America Day by Day Beauvoir gave exoticized, essentialist descriptions of Black people drawn from French primitivist tropes about Blackness, especially those found in Hughes Panassié’s Le Jazz Hot (1934). Black American women are “alive” with “animal life,” while whites are stiff, formal, and repressed.11 (Beauvoir, 1947: 838) At the Savoy she outlines the bodies of Black dancers, describing what they’re wearing, how they move, and how they smile–though she talks to none of these women. Beauvoir also went touring in Black churches in Harlem. Slumming in Black churches is a common form of white racial voyeurism, as Patricia J. Williams describes in Seeing a Colorblind Future: The Paradox of Race, “Busloads of tourists flock to black churches on Sunday…gate-crashing”. (Williams, 2016 )
Beauvoir was more than a tourist; she was an adventurer. Her analysis of the adventurer in The Ethics of Ambiguity is about her. As a tourist in Africa, she is overtaken with “the demon of adventure.”12 (Beauvoir, 1963: 1143/5616) She enjoyed walking through Black spaces, gate-crashing. She uses the same word–adventure–to describe walking in Harlem and Africa. By the time of her 1948 adventure to Algeria, Beauvoir’s white double consciousness crushed her spirit for tourism, which she declares “dead and buried.” It was buried by the Black looks of Algerians in the Casbah. She felt nothing but “resentment” and “misery” from them.13 (Beauvoir, 1963: 3724)
To read Beauvoir alongside Black women is crucial if we are to engage with the hard work of feminism, since as Nya argues,
“For women of color, doing feminism is about ending racism, not simply about engaging in a theoretical debate.” (Nya, 2019: 2189)
The Antiguan-American writer Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place offers a voice from the other side of the colonial travel narrative. Kincaid’s existential reading of white tourism in the Caribbean is blunt:
“The thing you have always suspected about yourself the minute you become a tourist is true: A tourist is an ugly human being.” (Kincaid, 1988: 14)
As many before me have noted, there are ample texts of Black feminism to read in conjunction with Beauvoir. Audre Lorde’s text, The Master’s Tools, quotes Beauvoir while challenging white theorists to listen to what “poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians” have to say about existentialism. (Lorde, 1984: 110-114) Angela Davis’s Women, Race & Class (Davis, 1981) speaks to the race/gender analogy, the experience of Black women under chattle slavery, and the limits of the white feminist goal of getting women into the sphere of labor. As Belle has argued, there are earlier traditions of Black feminism, especially those of Anna J. Cooper and Maria W. Steward. Another vital text is Harriet Ann Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Jacobs, 1987). Hazel Carby’s reading of Jacobs in Reconstructing Womanhood is seminal (Carby, 1987). Jacobs’s experience is clear evidence to refute Beauvoir’s thesis that chattel slavery imposed an “infantile condition” on its victims which made them ignorant to their own freedom. Jacobs exhibits what Neil Roberts in his book Freedom as Marronage calls “slave agency.”14) (Robert, 2015: 43)
Recent books illuminate the importance of the debate over feminism and blanchité. These include The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France, edited by Sue Peabody and Tyler Stovall (Peabody and Stovall, 2013) and Black French Women and the Struggle for Equality, edited by Felix Germain and Silyane Larcher (Germain and Larcher, 2018). Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel’s Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire, traces seven Black women, including Suzanne Césaire (Joseph-Gabriel, 2019). T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting has worked extensively on Black women’s anti-colonialism. Her 2002 book Negritude Women is exemplary (Sharpley-Whiting, 2002). Most recently she co-edited Black France/France Noire (Sharpley-Whiting, 2012).
Studies of whiteness are growing in the USA and the UK. I return often to Sara Ahmed’s path breaking 2007 paper “A Phenomenology of Whiteness,” with its injunction:
“If whiteness gains currency by being unnoticed, then what does it mean to notice whiteness?” (Ahmed, 2007: 149)
Ahmed analyzes whiteness in Queer Phenomenology (2006); The Promise of Happiness (2010); Living A Feminist Life (2017), and in her blog Feminiskilljoys.com. Richard Dyer’s book White Essays on Race and Culture (1997) is well-known. Critical Race Theory in England edited by Namita Chakrabarty, Lorna Roberts and John Preston asks if critical race theory imposes American categories to Europe (2014).15 Shona Hunter’s webpage whitepages.org is a resource featuring a preview of the Routledge Handbook of Critical Whiteness Studies, which she is co-editing with Christi van der Westhuizen.
Besides those mentioned already, a large number of thinkers in the States have made contributions to the analysis of whiteness. These include Nell Irvin Painter, Dorothy Roberts, David Roediger, Michael Monahan, Veronica Watson, George Yancy, Shannon Sullivan, Tim Wise, Charles Mills, Naomi Zack, Richard Delgado, and Jean Stefancic to name only a few. (Engles, 2006)
To return to where we started: Du Graf’s question, “Is existentialism a white club?” must be answered in the negative. Existentialism is a living, global philosophy that cannot be written without the input of “poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians.” But the question “Does existentialism have a white problem?” must be answered in the affirmative. I hope Beauvoir would agree if she were alive to contribute to the contemporary debate over blanchité and feminism.
For us white philosophers, the white problem is our problem.
Sarah Ahmed, On Being Included, Durham, Duke, 2012.
Sara Ahmed, “A Phenomenology of Whiteness”, Feminist Theory, (8)2, August 2007, p. 149-168.
Namita Chakrabarty, Lorna Roberts and John Preston (eds.), Critical Race Theory in England, London: Routledge, 2014.
Linda Martín Alcoff, The Future of Whiteness, Hoboken, Wiley, 2015.
Simone de Beauvoir, La Force des choses I, Gallimard, 1963. Kindle Edition.
Simone de Beauvoir, L’Amérique au jour le jour, Gallimard. Kindle Edition.
Kathryn Sophia Belle, “‘The Man Who Lived Underground’: Jean-Paul Sartre And the Philosophical Legacy of Richard Wright,” Sartre Studies International, 17 (2), 2011, p. 42-59.
Kathryn Sophia Belle (Kathryn T. Gines), “Sartre, Beauvoir, and the Race/Gender Analogy: A Case for Black Feminist Philosophy,” in Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy, edited by Maria del Guadalupe Davidson, Kathryn Sophia Belle (Kathryn T. Gines), Donna-Dale Marcano, Albany, SUNY Press, 2010, p. 35-51.
Kathryn Sophia Belle, Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2014.
Kathryn T Gines [Sophia Belle], “Comparative and Competing Frameworks of Oppression in Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex”, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 1-2, 2014, p. 251-273. Online here: http://web.mit.edu/sgrp/2016/no1/Gines%20-%20Comparative%20Competing%20Frameworks%20Beauvoir.pdf
Katharine S. Bullard, Civilizing the Child: Discourses of Race, Nation and Child Welfare in America, Lanham, Lexington Books, 2012.
Robert Bernasconi, “Richard Wright as Educator: The Progressive Structure of Simone de Beauvoir’s Account of Racial Hatred in the United States,” Yale French Studies, “Existentialism, 70 Years After,” n°135-136, 2019, p. 151-168.
Hazel Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987.
Angela Davis, Women, Race & Class, London, Penguin Classics, 1981.
Tim Engles, “Towards a Biography of Critical Whiteness Studies,” The Keep: Eastern Illinois Library, November 2006. https://thekeep.eiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1050&context=eng_fac
Franz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, Pluto Press, London, 2008.
Felix Germain and Silyane Larcher (eds.), Black French Women and the Struggle for Equality, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018.
Lewis R. Gordon, Fanon and the Crisis of European man: an Essay on Philosophy and the Human Sciences, New York, Routledge, 1995.
Lewis R. Gordon, “Hansberry’s Tragic Search for Postcoloniality,” in Her Majesty’s Other Children: Sketches of Racism from a Neocolonial Age,Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield, 1997.
Lauren Du Graf, “Existentialism’s ‘White Problem,’: Richard Wright and Jean Paul Sartre’s The Respectful Prostitute,” Yale French Studies, “Existentialism, 70 Years After,” n°s 135-136, 2019.
bell hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation, New York, Routledge (2nd ed.), 2015.
Harriet Ann Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Cambridge, Havard University Press, 1987.
Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel, Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire, Champaign, University of Illinois Press, 2019.
Jonathan Judaken, Jean-Paul Sartre and The Jewish Question: Anti-Antisemitism and the Politics of the French Intellectual, Lincoln, University of Nebraska, 2009.
Horia Kebabza, « « L’universel lave-t-il plus blanc ? » : « Race », racisme et système de privilèges », Les cahiers du CEDREF, 14 | 2006, p. 145-172.
Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988.
Kate Kirkpatrick, Becoming Beauvoir, London, Bloomsbury, 2019.
Sonia Kruks, Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.
Sylvie Laurent, Thierry Leclère , De quelle couleur sont les blancs ?Des « petits Blancs » des colonies au « racisme anti-Blancs ». La Découverte, « Cahiers libres », 2013.
Sylvie Laurent, La couleur du marché. Racisme et néolibéralisme aux États-Unis, Paris, Le Seuil, 2016.
Sylvie Laurent, Poor white trash, la pauvreté odieuse du Blanc américain, Paris, Sorbonne Pups, 2011.
Sylvie Laurent, Pauvre petit Blanc. Le mythe de la dépossession raciale, Paris, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2020.
Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.”(1984) in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Ed. Berkeley, CA, Crossing Press, 2007, p. 110-114. https://collectiveliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Lorde_The_Masters_Tools.pdf
Nathalie Nya, Simone de Beauvoir and the Colonial Experience, Lanham, Lexington, 2019, Kindle Edition.
Sue Peabody and Tyler Stovall (eds.), The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France, Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.
Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, London: Routledge, 1992.
Neil Roberts, Freedom as Marronage Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.
T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Negritude Women, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2002.
T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting (ed.), Black France/France Noire. The History and Politics of Blackness, Durham, Duke univesity Press, 2012.
Margaret A. Simons, “Beauvoir and the Problem of Racism,” in Philosophers on Race: Critical Issues, edited by Julie K. Ward and Tommy L. Lott, Blackwell, 2002.
Christiane Taubira, “Black . . . A Color? A Kaleidoscope!”, in Black France/France Noire: The History of Politics and Blackness, edited by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Trica Danielle Keaton, and Tyler Stovall, Durham (USA), Duke University Press, 2012, p. xi-xiv.
Patricia J. Williams, Seeing a Colorblind Future: The Paradox of Race, New York, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2016 .
Pour citer cet article : T. Storm Heter, « Beauvoir’s White Problem », Chère Simone de Beauvoir, janvier 2021. URL : https://lirecrire.hypotheses.org/3404
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- In French: “De même qu’en Amérique il n’y a pas de problème noir mais un problème blanc ; de même que « l’antisémitisme n’est pas un problème juif : c’est notre problème » ; ainsi le problème de la femme a toujours été un problème d’hommes.» Simone de. Beauvoir, Le deuxième sexe (Tome 1) – Les faits et les mythes (p. 222). Editions Gallimard, 1949, Kindle Edition.
- Sylvie Laurent has written a number of works on whiteness, including: La couleur du marché. Racisme et néolibéralisme aux États-Unis, Paris, Le Seuil, 2016 ; Poor white trash, la pauvreté odieuse du Blanc américain, Paris, Sorbonne Presses universitaires, 2011 ; and Pauvre petit Blanc. Le mythe de la dépossession raciale, Paris, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2020.
- Gordon maintains, “To be black may mean to suffer, literally and figuratively, on an everyday basis, but to be white may ultimately mean–at least when moral reflection is permitted to enter–to be condemned.”
- “the fascination with difference that white people have collectively expressed openly (and at times vulgarly) as they have travelled around the world in pursuit of the Other and Otherness.” (hooks, 2015: p. 165.
- “The genre of travel and adventure writing grew substantially in the mid-nineteenth century, drawing comfortable middle-class and working-class readers into the dangers of the life on the frontiers of civilization.”
- The full quote: is « J’ouvris les yeux : pas de chat, mais un vieil Arabe très sale assis sur mon estomac ; dans le sable, à côté de son couffin, un couteau. « Plutôt être violée qu’égorgée », me dis-je, mais je défaillais de terreur. »
- « Décidément ici le viol n’est pas un mythe, pensai-je ; beaucoup d’hommes vivent dans un si extrême dénuement que le mariage, donc la femme, leur sont interdits : leur ventre crie ; et puis, habitués au voile et à la réserve des Musulmanes, une femme qui s’étend sur le sable, seule, demi nue, est une femme offerte, c’est une femme à prendre. »
- « Je rencontrai chez eux des Tunisiennes habillées, maquillées, coiffées et parfumées à la parisienne ; elles ne portaient plus le voile que le matin, pour aller au marché ; elles avaient soif de liberté »
- « Nous sûmes qu’on ne nous voyait pas d’un bon œil. »
- « Drapées dans des cotonnades éclatantes, coiffées d’un échafaudage de nattes, découvraient leurs visages, leurs épaules, leurs seins, leurs rires. »
- See the entry for February 3rd. Seven paragraphs she begins with a description of her “adventure” in Harlem. « J’ai marché vers Harlem, mais mes pas n’étaient pas tout à fait aussi insouciants qu’à l’ordinaire ; il ne s’agissait pas seulement d’une promenade, mais d’une espèce d’aventure. »
- In French, « Le démon de l’aventure. »
- « Mais l’après-midi nous nous promenâmes dans la Casbah et je compris que le tourisme, tel qu’autrefois nous l’avions pratiqué, était enterré ; le pittoresque s’était décomposé : ce que nous rencontrions dans ces ruelles, c’était la misère et la rancœur. »
- “By slave agency I mean two points in concert: (a) the capacity of slaves themselves individually and collectively to imagine their conception of freedom; and (2) the ability of slaves….to enact their imagined ideal of freedom into practice.” (p. 43
- See Introduction.