The Twentieth-Century Periodical in French
Meadow Dibble-Dieng When the Medium was the Message
: Editorial Practice in the First Series of Présence Africaine At the time it was founded in 1947, Présence Africaine was not at liberty to reveal the extent of its ambitions. From the outset, the prognostic for Alioune Diop’s periodical project was decidedly bleak, for its Pan-African predecessors of the late colonial era had laboured under unfavourable conditions that forced them to fold well before their prime. La Revue du monde noir (1931–1932), for example, having promised to unite the scat- tered members of the ‘Negro race’ to form a ‘great democracy’ disappeared under duress after less than one year and six issues. Neither the vitriolic Légitime défense (1932) nor the legendary L’Étudiant noir (1935) ever saw its second issue. As for Aimé Césaire’s Tropiques (1941–1945), it was censored in 1943 and only brief ly resumed publication after the fall of Vichy. Lest readers assume that liberated Paris constituted a more fertile ground for the cultivation of Pan-African periodical projects, a 1948 editorial notice in the journal’s third/fourth issue reveals that between the publication of Présence Africaine’s third and fourth issues, its staf f had ‘connu, entre temps, maintes dif ficultés matérielles ou morales, vécu dans l’inquiétude, voire dans l’angoisse’. And its troubles hardly ended there.1 The fact that 1 Another editorial notice in the seventh issue of the journal, signed ‘P.A.’, is informative with respect to the dif ficult conditions under which the journal was operating during...
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