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The formation of collective identity in French colonial societies: The case of Guadeloupe

Margot Martin Atkinson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Nationalism is one of the most important political forces in the world today. The essential element of nationalism is in the formation of collective identity. In the French Caribbean, Guadeloupean nationalism of the 1970s and the 1980s has been replaced by Guadeloupeans looking towards continuing integration with France and entry in the European Union. Part of the failure of Guadeloupean nationalism was due to the profound ambivalence that people experience between Guadeloupean identity and French identity. Guadeloupean nationalism did recreate worth and legitimacy in Guadeloupean identity. Yet Guadeloupeans associate modernity, progress, and "grand culture" with French identity, as well as the real economic advantages of French State services. The critical element of collective identity is in the retrieval of a significant past, the hidden history of colonized people, that establishes continuity, originality, solidarity and cultural value. The real struggle for Guadeloupean nationalism is to create solidarity and value in Guadeloupean identity that cuts across pervasive social divisions.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Atkinson, Margot Martin, "The formation of collective identity in French colonial societies: The case of Guadeloupe" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9619370.