Contemporary French Civilization

Making couscous French? Digesting the loss of empire

Contemporary French Civilization (2017), 42, (3-4), 391–407.

Abstract

Culinary specialties constitute an overlooked yet important, edible site of memory. The trajectory of couscous is particularly significant because it is intimately linked to France’s colonial history and decolonization. Considering couscous as an object of study makes perceptible the bits and pieces of an unfinished colonial past that are woven into everyday life, and which, unlike the case of Banania, have heretofore been unexamined. This proposed biography of couscous in French popular culture examines how the dish was used to make decolonization more palatable at a time when “la plus grande France” (that is France and its colonial empire) became the Hexagone.

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Durmelat, Sylvie