Gradhiva n°10


Présence africaine. The black condition : a genealogy of discussions

October 2009

Special issue edited and presented by Srah Frioux-Salgas

The literary and cultural journal Présence Africaine, heir of pan-Africanism and negritude before the Second World War, was founded in 1947 by the Senegalese intellectual Alioune Diop. An inaugural text, “Niam n’goura or the raison d’être of Présence Africaine” clearly explained the objectives of this journal:

  • To publish Africanist studies on black culture and civilization
  • To publish “African texts”
  • To consider “works of art or thoughts concerning the black world”

In the first issues, Alioune Diop surrounded himself with very diverse figures: ethnologists, anthropologists (Marcel Griaule, George Balandier, Théodore Monod, Michel Leiris, Paul Rivet), writers and philosophers (Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Jean-Paul Sartre, André Gide, Albert Camus, Richard Wright, Emmanuel Mounier), as well as gallery owners and art critics (Charles Ratton, William Fagg). In 1949, Alioune Diop created a publishing house of the same name.

Présence Africaine was a dissemination tool that allowed black intellectuals and writers to reclaim their cultural and historic identities that the colonial context had negated or “exoticized”. It was then simultaneously a movement, a network and a forum, allowing different trends of ideas linked to the “black worlds” to be expressed. The journal, the bookstore and the publishing house still exist today but their importance and influence can no longer be compared to that which they enjoyed during the independence period of the former colonies.

This  special issue aims to place the historic, political and intellectual heritage that the journal received into perspective by establishing a genealogy of the discussions and texts on “the black worlds” and “the black conditions”.

This issue is sold out


special issue: Présence Africaine. The black condition : a genealogy of discussions

  • Présence Africaine. A tribune, a movement, a network, by Sarah Frioux-Salgas
  • The Abbot Grégoire and the Role of Black Men and Women in World History, by Bernard Gainot
  • Reflections of Black literature: a review of anthologies and journals, by Anthony Mangeon
  • An African presence before "Presence Africaine": Black Political Subjectivation in France during the Interwar Period, by Pap Ndiaye
  • The Conquest of French Publishing by Francophone Literature from Sub-Saharan Africa (1914-1974), by Julien Hage
  • The Home of Présence Africaine, by Romuald Fonkua and Marc-Vincent Howlett
  • "One can't deny the role of Negro art for long", by Eloi Ficquet and Loraine Gallimardet


  • Interview with Daniel Maximin, poet, novelist and essayist, by Sarah Frioux-Salgas
  • Alioune Diop, one of the fathers of the world democratic civility. Account by the franco-haitian writer René Depestre.
  • Extracts from Histoire d'autres, by Georges Balandier

Documents and materials

  • "In the American Grain". An introduction to the debate Ellison-Hyman by Emmanuel Parent
  • American Negro Literature and the Folk Tradition, by Stanley Edgar Hyman, translated to French by Emmanuel Parent
  • Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke, by Ralph Ellison, translated to French by Emmanuel Parent
  • Kojo Tovalou Houénou's short speech at the Universal Negro Improvement Association Congress, 1924
  • Heritage, poem by Countée Cullen, 1925
  • Aimé Césaire's speech on African Art at the Fisrt World Negro Arts Festival in Dakar, 1966

scientific column

Chronology by Marie Durand and Sarah Frioux-Salgas 


  • 240 pages, (20 x 27cm)
  • 80 illustrations
  • EAN 978 2 35744 018 0
  • €20