Nature's Empire: Postcolonialism, Environmentalism, and Parti pris, 1963-1970
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In 1963, the journal Parti pris was founded in response to the bombings perpetrated by the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). The journal published on a monthly basis from 1963 till 1968. This period in Quebec coincided with the Quiet Revolution, protests and dissent in Montreal, and the “modernization” project that accompanied the construction projects planned for the 1967 World’s Fair held in Montreal. Also coinciding during this period was the decolonization movement and the rise of the environmental movement – typically pointed to having commenced in 1962, with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Parti pris held an important position in Quebec during the 1960s, its team (the Partipristes) propagated and shaped the understanding of decolonization in the province. Parti pris was radical, taking inspiration from the FLQ, the Partipristes argued that Quebec was a colonized society afflicted by English Canadian and American colonialism. The Partipristes did so by emulating the arguments from the French poststructuralists and voices from the decolonizing French Empire. Recent historiography has made the argument that these same voices from the decolonizing world helped influence the ideas that led to and shaped the environmental movement (entrenched in 1970 with the first Earth Day). This thesis looks at how Parti pris appropriated arguments from African and Caribbean theoreticians in order to make arguments about Quebec. While in the process of doing so, the Partipristes also discussed the Quebec landscape, nature, and the exploitation of the province’s natural ressources. This led some of the Partipristes (namely the two editors, Paul Chamberland and Pierre Maheu) to later join the environmental movement in the 1970s. For them, and for the many who felt affiliated with Parti pris’ philosophy, the environmental movement represented in 1970 a new opportunity for “revolution.” This was an attractive idea to the many Quebeckers who felt frustrated by the events of May 1968 and by the October Crisis in 1970.