WP325. On language and the planetary: Édouard Glissant’s philosophy of multilingual Relation

Dawes
2025

Abstract

This article explores the lessons for antiracism provided by Édouard Glissant’s philosophy of language. The late Martinican scholar (1928-2011) writes extensively about language in correspondence to core concepts in his thought, in particular Relation, opacity and the Whole-World. Through a reading of his essays, poems and novels, I argue that that Glissant’s writing poses an ontological question about language which allows us to rethink both our relationships to each other and possibilities for collective solidarity. The move towards the Whole-World, in his later work, speaks to wider debates on the planetary interdependence and relies on a multilingual reimagination of the common places where we are all implicated in the task of getting free from oppression.