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S E V E N African Youth in the Global Economy And my non-enclosure island, its clear boldness standing at the back of this Polynesia, before it, Guadeloupe split in two along its backbone and sharing our misery, Haiti where negritude stood up for the first time and said it believed in its humanity and the comic little tail of Florida where the strangulation of a nigger is about to be completed and Africa gigantically caterpillaring as far as the Hispanic foot of Europe, its nakedness where Death swings its scythe widely. Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to My Native Land1 Migration to the French metropole has been a constant feature of francophone sub-Saharan African literature from colonial times to the contemporary moment of postcoloniality. Naturally, this phenomenon can be located in a much broader transhistorical economic and political framework in which the displacement of populations has been a common denominator over several centuries. These factors have much to reveal about the dynamic between the symbiotically related spaces that are sub-Saharan Africa and France. Indeed, explorations of colonial history have helped us to better contextualize recent trends in population movements between Africa and France and France and Africa, and have convincingly demonstrated the complex connections evidenced in the mythic construct of France evoked by colonial and postcolonial subjects. The Senegalese writer Fatou Diome, who resides in the city of Strasbourg in northeastern France, explores the bilateralism of French-African relations in her novel Le ventre de l’Atlantique, thereby inscribing herself in a long intertextual genealogy of African writers to whose writings this mediation has been foundational.2 The question of migration has of course been a central factor in connecting colonialism and postcolonialism, although the term has taken on even greater significance as African nation-states have been confronted by the economic and social realities of globalization and the accompanying challenge to sovereignty.3 Indeed, as Saskia Sassen has argued, The specific forms of the internationalization of capital over the past twenty years have contributed to mobilizing people into migration streams. They have done so principally through the implantation of Western development strategies . . . At the same time the administrative, commercial, and development networks of the former European empires and the newer forms these networks assumed under the Pax Americana (international direct foreign investment , export-processing zones, wars for “democracy”) have not only created bridges for the flow of capital, information, and high-level personnel from the center to the periphery but . . . also for the flow of migrants from the periphery to the center.4 A rather unusual set of circumstances inform the African context, particularly if one takes into consideration regional and national particularities, such as a broad range of colonial and decolonizing experiments, recent experiences of national sovereignty, vast discrepancies in natural resources , uneven border control, and population mobility, as well as complex regional trade networks. Naturally, “through these apparently novel forms of integration into the international system,” as Achille Mbembe writes, “and the concomitant modes of economic exploitation, equally novel technologies of domination are taking shape over almost the entire continent.”5 For Arjun Appadurai,“the greatest of these apparently stable objects is the nation-state, which is today frequently characterized by floating populations , transnational politics within national borders, and mobile configurations of technology and expertise.”6 As we shall see, this tenuous relationship between the imperatives of national sovereignty and those of globalization (considered as a transnational phenomenon that works toward the eradication of national borders) is contained in the conclusion to Diome’s novel. Given the bilateralism of African-French relations intrinsic to Diome’s work, she would surely concur with Fredric Jameson, who signaled that the result of globalizing processes would inevitably be “the forced integration of countries all over the globe into precisely that new division of labor.”7 Whereas writers during the colonial era such as Ousmane Socé, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, and Bernard Dadié (all of whom Diome alludes to in her novel) were concerned with the “ambiguous” nature of the cultural encounter with France—initially in colonial schools through the ex186 black france igencies of the civilizing mission, and subsequently through travel to the metropole—Diome extends and updates the implications and parameters of her work in order to situate her observations and critique within the contextual framework of a reflection on globalization and its impact on Africa. Xavier Garnier has convincingly illustrated how Diome’s work foregrounds “bilateral relations” between France...


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