Advertisement

Memory Lobbying and the Shaping of ‘Colonial Memories’ in France since the 1990s: The Local, the National, and the International

  • Jan C. Jansen

Abstract

At the turn of the century, scholars, journalists, and other public figures commented rather optimistically on the way the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62) appeared in the public sphere. Many historians and public observers saw the dawn of a new age in French attitudes toward the nation’s Algerian heritage. In the late 1990s, the French state had stopped denying its bloodiest war of decolonization and started to actively commemorate it; academic research had made considerable progress in understanding the war, including some of its most sensitive aspects; public media and the cinema had begun to address the Franco-Algerian colonial past; and in 2000 the French public had just started to engage in an intense debate about the systematic use of torture as part of French warfare in Algeria. Many commentators used expressions such as the return of a ‘repressed’ past, an ‘end of amnesia’, or an intense collective ‘work of mourning’ (travail de deuil), a difficult but also healing process of coming to terms, of confronting a deliberately ‘forgotten’ past that would finally become less emotionally charged.1 Some even saw the beginning of France’s general emotional disengagement and reconciliation with its conflict-ridden colonial past as a whole.

Keywords

Colonial Rule Colonial Past French State Police Violence French Public 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    See, for instance, David L. Schalk, ‘Has France’s Marrying Her Century Cured the Algerian Syndrome?’, Historical Reflections, 25 (1999): 149–64;Google Scholar
  2. Benjamin Stora, ‘Guerre d’Algérie: les instruments de la mémoire’, Historiens et Géographes, 96(388) (2004): 247–54;Google Scholar
  3. Neil MacMaster, ‘The Torture Controversy (1998–2002): Towards a “New History” of the Algerian War?’, Modern and Contemporary France, 10(4) (2002): 449–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 2.
    The best analysis of these events is provided by Romain Bertrand, Mémoires d’empire: la controverse autour du ‘fait colonial’ (Bellecombe-en-Bauges, 2006).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Cf. Pascal Blanchard and Isabelle Veyrat-Masson, eds, Les guerres de mémoires: la France et son histoire (Paris, 2008);Google Scholar
  6. Benjamin Stora, La guerre des mémoires: la France face à son passé colonial: entretiens avec Thierry Leclère (La Tour d’Aigues, 2007);Google Scholar
  7. Eric Savarese, Algérie, la guerre des mémoires (Paris, 2007).Google Scholar
  8. 4.
    On the place of post-Algerian memories within the French post-colonial ‘encounter’, see Eric Savarese, La rencontre postcoloniale (Bellecombe-en-Bauges, 2014).Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    See, for example, Antoine Raybaud, ‘Deuil sans travail, travail sans deuil: la France a-t-elle une mémoire coloniale?’, Dédale, 5–6 (1997): 87–104;Google Scholar
  10. Gilles Manceron, Marianne et ses colonies: une introduction à l’histoire coloniale de la France (Paris, 2003), 267–82.Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    On this aspect, see Todd Shepard’s chapter in this volume. On the term of ‘deterritorialization’, see Jan C. Jansen, ‘Politics of Remembrance, Colonialism, and the Algerian War in France’, in Małgorzata Pakier and Bo Stråth, eds, A European Memory? Contested Histories and Politics of Remembrance (New York, 2010), 275–93, here 275.Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    A good overview on this period is provided by Frank Renken, Frankreich im Schatten des Algerienkrieges: Die Fünfte Republik und die Erinnerung an den letzten großen Kolonialkonflikt (Göttingen, 2006).Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    Classical interpretations are Benjamin Stora, La gangrène et l’oubli: la mémoire de la guerre d’Algérie (Paris, 1991); Schalk, ‘Syndrome’. For a critique, seeGoogle Scholar
  14. William B. Cohen, ‘The Algerian War, the French State and Official Memory’, Historical Reflections, 28 (2002): 219–39.Google Scholar
  15. 10.
    For the big picture, see Christian Meier, Das Gebot zu vergessen und die Unabweisbarkeit des Erinnerns: Vom öffentlichen Umgang mit schlimmer Vergangenheit (Munich, 2010), chapter 1.Google Scholar
  16. 11.
    Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, Enjeux politiques de l’histoire coloniale (Marseille, 2009), 24–35.Google Scholar
  17. 12.
    Cf. Benjamin Stora, Le dictionnaire des livres de la guerre d’Algérie (Paris, 1996).Google Scholar
  18. 13.
    On the ‘representation’ via associations and their representativeness, see Claire Eldridge’s chapter in this volume. On the constitution of these groups as social actors via mobilization, see Eric Savarese, L’invention des Pieds-Noirs (Paris, 2002).Google Scholar
  19. 14.
    For a survey of different forms and media, see Andrea L. Smith, ‘Settler Sites of Memory and the Work of Mourning’, French Politics, Culture & Society, 31(3) (2013): 65–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 16.
    Jan C. Jansen, Erobern und Erinnern: Symbolpolitik, öffentlicher Raum und französischer Kolonialismus in Algerien, 1830–1950 (Munich, 2013), 1–2, 477–80;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Alain Amato, Monuments en exil (Paris, 1979).Google Scholar
  22. 17.
    Raphaëlle Branche, La guerre d’Algérie: une histoire apaisée? (Paris, 2005), 25–7.Google Scholar
  23. 19.
    On such synergetic interactions between Holocaust and decolonization memories, see Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford, 2009).Google Scholar
  24. 20.
    Frédéric Rouyaud, ‘La bataille du 19 mars’, in Jean-Pierre Rioux, ed., La guerre d’Algérie et les Français (Paris, 1990), 545–52.Google Scholar
  25. 21.
    Robert Aldrich, ‘Le musée colonial impossible’, in Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, and Sandrine Lemaire, eds, Culture post-coloniale, 1961–2006: traces et mémoires coloniales en France (Paris, 2005), 83–101, here 98–9.Google Scholar
  26. 22.
    For a short overview on the following events, see Branche, Guerre; Jansen, ‘Politics of Remembrance’; Robert Aldrich, Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France (Basingstoke, 2005), 328–34.Google Scholar
  27. 23.
    Bertrand, Mémoires d’empire, 61–84. On the law, see also Gilles Manceron, ed., La colonisation, la loi et l’histoire (Paris, 2006);Google Scholar
  28. Claude Liauzu, ‘Les historiens saisis par les guerres de mémoire coloniale’, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 52(4) (2005): 99–109.Google Scholar
  29. 26.
    On recent French ‘memory laws’ in a European context, see Stiina Löytömäki, Law and the Politics of Memory: Confronting the Past (Abingdon, 2014).Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    For an overview, see Olivier Dard and Daniel Lefeuvre, eds, L’ Europe face à son passé colonial (Paris, 2008); Stephen Howe, ‘Colonising and Exterminating? Memories of Imperial Violence in Britain and France’, Histoire@Politique, 11 (2010), http://www.histoire-politique.fr/index.php?numero= 11&rub= pistes&item= 17 (accessed 30 April 2015).Google Scholar
  31. 32.
    On the event and its commemoration, see Jim House and Neil MacMaster, Paris 1961: Algerians, State Terror and Postcolonial Memories (Oxford, 2006).Google Scholar
  32. 34.
    Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, and Françoise Vergès, La république coloniale: essai sur une utopie (Paris, 2003);Google Scholar
  33. Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, and Sandrine Lemaire, eds, La fracture coloniale: la société française au prisme de l’héritage colonial (Paris, 2005);Google Scholar
  34. Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison, La république impériale: politique et racisme d’état (Paris, 2009).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Gérard Noiriel, ‘Itinéraire d’un engagement dans l’histoire: entretien avec Gérard Noiriel’, interview by Smaîn Laacher and Patrick Simon, Mouvements, 45–6(3) (2006): 209–19, here 217–18.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Daniel Mollenhauer, ‘Erinnerungspolitik in der postkolonialen Republik — Frankreich und das koloniale Erbe’, in Claudia Kraft, Alf Lüdtke, and Jürgen Martschukat, eds, Kolonialgeschichten: Regionale Perspektiven auf ein globales Phänomen (Frankfurt, 2010), 119–41.Google Scholar
  37. 38.
    On the competitive dynamics of self-victimization, see Martha Minow, ‘Surviving Victim Talk’, UCLA Law Review, 40 (1992–3): 1411–45.Google Scholar
  38. For overviews of the US and France, see Jean-Michel Chaumont, La concurrence des victimes: génocide, identité, reconnaissance (Paris, 1997);Google Scholar
  39. Johann Michel, Gouverner les mémoires: les politiques mémorielles en France (Paris, 2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 43.
    Jan C. Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel, Dekolonisation: Das Ende der Imperien (Munich, 2013), 125–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 45.
    On the international commemoration of slavery, see Ana Lucia Araujo, ed., Politics of Memory: Making Slavery Visible in the Public Space (New York, 2012).Google Scholar
  42. 47.
    On reactions to the speech, see Makhily Gassama, Mamoussé Diagne, Dialo Diop, and Koulsy Lamko, eds, L’Afrique répond à Sarkozy: contre le discours de Dakar (Paris, 2007);Google Scholar
  43. Jean-Pierre Chrétien, ed., L’Afrique de Sarkozy: un déni d’histoire (Paris, 2008).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jan C. Jansen 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan C. Jansen

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations