If others thought the body was the prison of the soul, Paul-Michel Foucault felt the other way round. The French philosopher, literary critic and Leftist who interpreted the link between power and knowledge, was a post-structuralist whose theories have left a mark on anthropology, psychology and criminology. The feminist was one of the noted personalities to have died of HIV/AIDS.
Olympe de Gouges was an 18th-century French playwright and political activist. Her writings on women's rights and abolitionism were popular in various countries. She was an outspoken advocate against the slave trade in the French colonies. She demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men. She was executed during the Reign of Terror.
Alexander Berkman was a Russian-American anarchist and author. He was famous for both his political activism and his writing and was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century. He served as the editor of fellow anarchist Emma Goldman's anarchist journal, Mother Earth. He suffered from ill-health in his later years and died by suicide.
Swiss-French activist and author Benjamin Constant is best remembered for penning the classic French novel Adolphe, which was one of the earliest psychological novels. Initially the chamberlain to the duke of Brunswick, he later supported the French Revolution and became a Member of the Chamber of Deputies.
Louis Auguste Blanqui was a French socialist who gave rise to Blanquism, a form of radicalism. While he initially studied both medicine and law, he later stepped into politics. He had been imprisoned for more than three decades and died of a stroke after a political speech at age 75.
The wife of Jean-Marie Roland, Madame Roland was a leading French revolutionary and often hosted significant political meets at her salon. She often directed her husband’s political actions and was responsible for creating a rift between the Jacobin and Girondin factions. She was later arrested and guillotined.
Her activism and outspokenness had earned Princess María Teresa of Bourbon-Parma the nickname Red Princess. Part of the Spanish royal family, she was educated at the Sorbonne. She later supported the Carlist movement and was a champion of women’s rights, too. She eventually died of COVID-19 at age 86.
Serge Klarsfeld is a Romanian-born French Nazi hunter and activist. He is best known for recording the Holocaust in order to enable the trial and prosecution of war criminals. Klarsfeld is also renowned for his efforts to commemorate the victims of German-occupied France.
Nadia El Fani is a French-Tunisian film producer, director, and screenwriter. She is best known for directing documentary films that discuss topics like women's rights, human rights, criticism of religion, and secularism. Nadia El Fani's 2012 film Même pas mal earned her the FESPACO award under the Best Feature Documentary category in 2013.
Henri Kréa was an Algerian-born French novelist, poet, dramatist, anti-colonialist, and political activist. His works dealt with nature, heroism, and social and moral changes in Algeria. Regarded as one of the best Algerian-born poets of his generation, Henri Kréa published over 20 collections of poetry during his lifetime.