CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

In the overseas départements of Martinique and Guadeloupe, the start of the 21st century was marked by the (re-)discovery of eco-system pollution by an organo-chlorate molecule : chlordecone. Its use as a pesticide in those islands’banana plantations from 1972 to 1993 led to contamination that was long-lasting, generalised, and deleterious to public health. The article re-states the environmental, sanitary, and economic challenges of that pollution, and sets out to show that the affair also includes political challenges that are specific to the history of those post-colonial, post-slavery societies. By re-stating the various points of conflict that call into question the services of the State, we describe how that pollution offers support to critics of forms of discrimination against the populations of the French West Indies, raising the question of the equality of overseas French citizens before French law. We then put forward the argument that discussing those political challenges, in particular by using certain scenarios, allows that pollution to be placed in the context of building a common world, a task that has proved so difficult after colonisation.

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