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Abstract

In her article, "Roots of Identity: The National and Cultural Self in Présence Africaine," Marga Graf investigates some of the difficulties African, American, Brazilian, and Caribbean Blacks of the mid-twentieth century encountered in their attempts to voice their cultural and racial self-understanding, a self-understanding struggling to a large extent to challenge the established dichotomy between black racial inferiority versus white superiority. After the Second World War, black intellectuals meeting at the Sorbonne in Paris founded the journal Présence Africaine, a journal that became the voice of blacks investigating their history and culture throughout the different regions of Africa as well as diasporas worldwide. In Présence Africaine, well-known black writers, poets, and intellectuals joined hands with white authors, most of them French writers and intellectuals, in a common endeavor to support the formation of a new cultural, historical, and political identity of and for blacks. Focusing on the decades of the 1950s and the 1960s, a time of multiple struggles for political independence, Graf explores the journal's material with regard to major regional differences in the processes of black identity formation and in the interpretation of négritude as a concept supporting blacks in their search for the roots of their identity.

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