|The road to 2005: how the memory of colonialism in France became a substitute for race
|Chafer, T. and Majumdar, Margaret A.
Since the explosions of debates about France’s colonial past in 2005, French scholars have adopted the term ‘memory wars’, to refer to the acrimonious politicization of colonial history in France. From the passing of memorial laws to presidential recognition speeches or the erection of memorials, diverse forms of dealing with France’s colonial history have penetrated France’s political sphere. This debate about memory provided tools for activists, historians, journalists and politicians to contest France’s republican traditions and particularly the notion of republican colour blindness. This chapter examines the role of anti-racism, and with it understanding of ‘race’ in France, in the development of France’s memory politics from the 1990s to the present day. It outlines a process that begins with the adoption of the vocabulary of a ‘memory duty’ to demand recognition for the narratives of victims of colonial violence. It then follows a new generation of anti-racist activists that appropriated existing memory vocabulary to shape a nascent conversation about race. Ultimately, the chapter explores the weaponization of memory by actors from the Left and Right alike and the use of memory vocabulary to address current events rather than history.
|Routledge Handbook of Francophone Africa
|02 Nov 2023
|Published in print
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