We are black, it is true, but tell us, gentlemen, you who are so judicious, what is the law that says that the black man must belong to and be the property of the white man? ... Yes, gentleman, we are free like you, and it is only by your avarice and our ignorance that anyone is still held in slavery up to this day, and we can neither see nor find the right that you pretend to have over us ... We are your equals then, by natural right, and if nature pleases itself to diversify colours within the human race, it is not a crime to be born black nor an advantage to be white.
This excerpt is from a letter written in July 1792 by the leaders of the revolution of Haitian slaves. The letter has been republished in the collection of writings of the black leader Toussaint L'Overture, The Haitian Revolution, which includes also the correspondence between him and Napoleon Bonaparte. In the late eighteenth century, Toussaint L'Overture and his supporters established the first black republic in the world.
In the United Kingdom, October is Black History Month. The celebration was originally introduced in 1926 on the initiative of Carter G. Woodson, the editor of the Journal of Negro History. In 2007, no fewer than 6,000 events were held in the UK as part of its programme. Here are some key Verso titles past and present that are relevant to the study and celebration of African and Caribbean history.
Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague — Marc Perelman
Perelman’s book takes a subversive look at sport and global sporting events such as the Olympics to reveal their darker side. He argues that sport has become an instrument of political control and a vehicle for capitalist monoculture. This timely polemic offers refreshing reading to those looking for an antidote to this summer’s Olympian frenzy.
Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism — Stephen Graham
This authoritative study examines the rapid and dangerous spread and normalization of surveillance and state policing in western cities and warzones alike under the guise of national security. As such it provides an unsettling and provocative insight into the global backdrop of the rising costs and militarization of London’s Olympic Games security operation.
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain— Owen Hatherley
Hatherley’s critical tour of Britain’s urban centres incorporates the latest and most high profile attempt at regeneration offering a carefully considered indictment of the architectural and social failures of Stratford’s Olympic sites.
And here are the answers you've all been so patiently waiting for. Congratulations to our incredibly well-read winners!
Get your radical thinking caps on...To celebrate the publication of Set 5 of the Radical Thinkers series, Verso is offering 2 lucky winners the chance to win all available titles in the five sets published to date.
The highly popular series publishes new editions of important works of continental philosophy in beautifully-designed and affordable editions. Covering the full spectrum of critical thought, the series includes work from radical thinkers such as Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Louis Althusser, Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, Georg Lukács, Jean-Paul Sartre, Theodor Adorno and many more.
First published in 2005, there are now 60 titles in the series. In 2009, set 4 was launched with a stunning and acclaimed new cover design from Rumors, which has become a hallmark of the series. They have been widely praised, including in the Guardian, Bookforum and the New Statesman.
In these tense times of increasingly explicit racism, most recently against the Roma in France, the French philosopher Jacques Rancière has made a very trenchant intervention. Speaking at a public meeting on "Why the Roma?" in Montreuil on 11 September, Rancière launched a precise attack on what he calls "left-wing intellectual racism" that tries to describe racism as simply a "passion of the popular classes" that the state can either seek or fail to channel or block, thereby occluding the active role of the state itself in creating, reproducing and intensifying racist divisions.