In Escape from Vichy: The Refugee Exodus to the French Caribbean
(Harvard University Press, 2018), Eric T. Jennings
reveals the fascinating history of the Martinique Corridor, a pathway travelled by thousands of political refugees who fled mainland France in the early years of the Second World War. Jennings deftly describes the array of obstacles faced by individuals seeking escape to Martinique, from difficulty dealing with French bureaucracy, to the perils of traveling by sea in wartime, to hostile reception by locals and officials after disembarking at shores of the French colony. Unable to reach their intended destinations in North, Central, and South America, many of refugees found themselves trapped on the island. According to Jennings, this led to numerous accidental and fruitful encounters between the motley crew of refugees (which included numerous renowned artists and intellectuals) and prominent local thinkers. Their unlikely interactions fostered new waves of thinking about racism and colonialism.
Eric T. Jennings is a professor of history at the University of Toronto, where he is affiliated with Victoria College. He is the author of numerous publications including Vichy in the Tropics
(Stanford University Press, 2004), Curing the Colonizers: Hydroptherapy, Climatology, and French Colonial Spas
(Duke University Press, 2006), and Imperial Heights: Dalat and the Making and Undoing of French Indochina
(University of California Press, 2011).
Robin Buller is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.