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Simone de Beauvoir and the Colonial Experience


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Table of Contents

Introduction Part I: The Situation, Post-Colonial Philosophy and Beauvoir Chapter I: The Dominant "French Intellectual" Post-Colonial Philosophy Part II: First Philosophy, Freedom and Gender Identity Chapter 2: The Second Sex: Beauvoir's First Famous Colonial Text Chapter 3: The Others' Other: Toward an Inter-Subjective Ethics Part III: Discourse on Colonialism, Violence and Racial Identity-Oppression and White Privilege Chapter 4: Colonial Trends: On Violence Chapter 5: Beauvoir's Problem: White Guilt/Privilege and, Gender and Race Intersectionality. Part IV: Conclusion Chapter 6: Toward an Inclusive Beauvoirian Scholarship

About the Author

Nathalie Nya teaches in the Department of Philosophy at John Carroll University.


Simone de Beauvoir and the Colonial Experience: Freedom, Violence, and Identity is an essential contribution to both feminist and postcolonial philosophies. The book reclaims Beauvoir's well-deserved place in discussions of the French colonial question. By reading The Second Sex and some of Beauvoir's other works as both feminist and colonial texts, the author presents a sophisticated analysis of Beauvoir's writings and activism related to French colonialism. The most significant accomplishment of the project is the ways in which it brings questions of gender to the fore in relation to race and colonialism. The analysis of the complicated but mostly underresearched question of the relationship between the colonizer women and the colonized women also presents fruitful avenues for feminist and postcolonial philosophies. The author explores one of these avenues in the section "Toward an Inclusive Beauvoirian Scholarship" by showing how these discussions bear on contemporary transnational feminist coalitions. -- Deniz Durmus, John Carroll University
During the Algerian War, Simone de Beauvoir contended that as a French citizen she was a colonizer, an unwilling beneficiary of French crimes in northern Africa. Distinguishing between her legacy for anti-racist politics in countries shaped by slavery like the United States and those shaped by empire such as France, Nathalie Nya boldly draws the consequences of Beauvoir's colonial self-understanding. This innovative and thought-provoking monograph astutely assesses Beauvoir's critique of liberal rights, her belief that oppression can suffocate moral agency or alleviate moral responsibility, and her ambivalence regarding revolutionary violence from the standpoint of women of color during Beauvoir's lifetime and today. By comparing Beauvoir to Francophone thinkers from the Caribbean and Africa who were her contemporaries, such as Paulette Nardal and Frantz Fanon, Nya adds to our understanding of Beauvoir as an independent political thinker and reminds readers that just as intersectionality may not have the same meaning in all historical contexts, race is philosophically important for reasons that go beyond its implications for white agency and responsibility. -- Laura Hengehold, Case Western Reserve University
Nya's de-colonial reading of Beauvoir is a fundamental rethink of the politics of existential feminism. The book elucidates the tension between Beauvoir's situation as White colon and her engagement with colonial women of color. Nya's work is an important part of the vital strain of existentialist thought that critically examines race, gender, and empire from the embodied perspective of women of color. -- Storm Heter, East Stroudsburg University

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