Article written by 2007 DPDF Rethinking Europe: Religion, Ethnicity, Nation Fellow Crystal Fleming:
This paper explores how French activists use claims about the history and legacies of slavery to combat stigmas associated with their group membership. Using a case study of a French Caribbean association (CM98) and a pan-African association (COFFAD), I examine how two organizations produce competing models for challenging and reversing the stigma of slavery. Through a process of normative inversion, activists assert the moral inferiority of dominant groups. CM98 rejects both a racial and an African identity, and seeks recognition for ‘French descendants of slaves’, using the language of citizenship to criticize the French government. COFFAD, by contrast, asserts an Afro-centric black identity and stigmatizes white Europeans. I argue that both destigmatization strategies unwittingly reinforce the stigma of historical enslavement.