The road to 2005: how the memory of colonialism in France became a substitute for race

Lotem, I. 2024. The road to 2005: how the memory of colonialism in France became a substitute for race. in: Chafer, T. and Majumdar, Margaret A. (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Francophone Africa Routledge. pp. 324-339

Chapter titleThe road to 2005: how the memory of colonialism in France became a substitute for race
AuthorsLotem, I.
EditorsChafer, T. and Majumdar, Margaret A.
Abstract

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.

KeywordsFrench History
Race
Memory Studies
Social Movements
Colonialism
Holocaust
Book titleRoutledge Handbook of Francophone Africa
Page range324-339
Year2024
PublisherRoutledge
Publication dates
Published02 Nov 2023
Published in print2024
ISBN9780815350835
9781351142168
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351142168-24
Web address (URL)https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-Handbook-of-Francophone-Africa/Chafer-Majumdar/p/book/9780815350835

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