Postcolonial Realms of Memory

BookPostcolonial Realms of Memory

Postcolonial Realms of Memory

Sites and Symbols in Modern France

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 68


January 31st, 2020



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Recognized as one of the most influential studies of memory in the late twentieth century, Pierre Nora’s monumental project Les Lieux de mémoire has been celebrated for its elaboration of a ground-breaking paradigm for rethinking the relationship between the nation, territory, history and memory. It has also, however, been criticized for implying a narrow perception of national memory from which the legacy of colonialism was excluded. Driven by an increasingly critical postcolonial discourse on French historiography and fuelled by the will to acknowledge the relevance of the colonial in the making of modern and contemporary France, the present volume intends to address in a collective and sustained manner this critical gap by postcolonializing the French Republic’s lieux de mémoire. The various chapters discern and explore an initial repertoire of realms and sites in France and the so-called Outremer that crystalize traces of colonial memory, while highlighting its inherent dialectical relationship with firmly instituted national memory. By making visible the invisible thread that links the colonial to various manifestations of French heritage, the objective is to bring to the fore the need to anchor the colonial in a collective memory that has often silenced it, and to foster new readings of the past as it is represented, remembered and inscribed in the nation’s collective imaginary.


'Written by recognized experts across a rich inter-disciplinary field, this is a hugely impressive survey of the problematic of postcolonial memory in both mainland France and les Outre-mer.'
Alec G Hargreaves, Florida State University

'This is an important and informative volume which will be a very useful addition to Francophone postcolonial studies.'
Bill Marshall, University of Stirling

‘An elegant yet accessible work, Postcolonial Realms of Memory not only exposes the colonial blind spot that left Pierre Nora’s Lieux de mémoire incomplete, but begins the long task of remedying it. This is a crucial intervention that the field has required for some time.’
Gemma King, Contemporary French Civilization

Author Information

Etienne Achille is an Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Villanova University. Charles Forsdick is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. Lydie Moudileno is Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and Professor of French and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.