Colonial Culture in France since the Revolution
Publication Year: 2013
This landmark collection by an international group of scholars and public intellectuals represents a major reassessment of French colonial culture and how it continues to inform thinking about history, memory, and identity. This reexamination of French colonial culture, provides the basis for a revised understanding of its cultural, political, and social legacy and its lasting impact on postcolonial immigration, the treatment of ethnic minorities, and national identity.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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Introduction: The Creation of a Colonial Culture in France, from the Colonial Era to the "Memory Wars"
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...the present collection is the fruit of an inquiry that began in the early 1990s and that sought to better elucidate certain aspects of France’s contemporary his-tory. The weight of colonial imaginary, discernible in the production of a colo-nial iconicity, in colonial cinema, and in the intertextual articulations of images/discourse, called for improved contextualization, as did those mechanisms as-...
Part 1. The Creation of a Colonial Culture
Foreword: French Colonization: An Inaudible History
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...this forew.scord.sc is based on a 2005 interview conducted with the historian Marc Ferro, a specialist on the issue of colonization and the reception of this past in French society, namely in books such as L’Histoire des colonisations (1994), Les tabous de l’Histoire (2002), and Le Livre noir du colonialisme (2003).1 He has de-scribed the current situation—a situation in which the French pub lic has turned ...
1 Antislavery, Abolitionism, and Abolition in France from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the 1840s
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Before g.scetting.sc to the heart of the matter, it is important to clarify the termi-nology: “antislavery” and “abolitionism” are not equivalent terms, even if there ex-ists admittedly a continuity between the two. strictly speaking, though one could not be abolitionist without being antislavery, there is a qualitative difference be-tween one term and the other. Proponents of antislavery limited themselves, in ...
2 Milestones in Colonial Culture under the Second Empire (1851–1870)
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...du.scring.sc the tw.scenty.sc- y.scear period between the sec ond abolition of 1848 and the Third republic’s colonial saga, napoleon iii headed France’s imperial policy. His-tory, however, does not recall this period in terms of its great ultramarine destiny, or because of its leader’s successful or unsuccessful attempts at conquest. never-theless, two events stand out as exceptions: the myth of the “arab Kingdom” and ...
3 Exhibitions, Expositions, Media Coverage, and the Colonies (1870–1914)
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In L’Exposition de Paris, an illustrated publication prepared for the Universal Exposition of 1889, rich in visuals, scenes, reproductions of art objects, machines, drawings, and engravings by the best artists, one could read the following: “One of the most popular areas of the exposition is the annex devoted to the history of dwelling places. ...
4 Science, Scientists, and the Colonies (1870–1914)
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...du.scring.sc the nineteenth century, the will to make an inventory of all that na-ture had placed at the disposition of humankind resulted in the invention of “cabi-nets of curiosity,” collections more exhaustive than they were spectacular. From the outset, they proved essential to the task of describing, comparing, and hier-archizing nature’s elements. later they would serve to colonize nature, its coun-...
5 Literature, Song, and the Colonies (1900–1920)
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Colonial w.scriting.sc b.scoth could have and should have been the ancestor of the current trend of “surprising traveler” novels. However, it is not. today, colonial literature has been all but forgotten, and even when it is evoked, it is to reaffirm its negative status. in terms of its literary qualities, the genre rarely produced texts rich enough to leave a mark on French literature. never mind a masterpiece. There ...
6 Entertainment, Theater, and the Colonies (1870–1914)
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...du.scring.sc the first half of the nineteenth century, theatrical representations of the colonies depicted lands where slavery reigned. The plays were essentially melodramas condemning the cruelty of colonials and their unpitying harshness. after 1848 and the abolition of slavery, the theme quickly grew out of fashion. The West indies were relegated to the status of “old colonies,” and colonial aspirations ...
7 School, Pedagogy, and the Colonies (1870–1914)
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...in the afterm.scath of a war in which two provinces were lost, and in the con-text of a europe through out which nationalities were being formed, the role of school was primarily to establish feelings of patriotism. it did so by calling upon both scholarly representations of history and popu lar legend. as ernest lavisse writes in an article titled “History” in his Dictionnaire pédagogique: “Make them ...
8 Dying: The Call of the Empire (1913–1918)
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...on J.scu.scly.sc 14, 1913, during the patriotic High Mass that the longchamp military parade had become, the president of the republic, raymond Poincaré, awarded the legion of Honor to the first regiment of senegalese tirailleurs (First rts). The act was significant, as this is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a unit. it recognized the contributions of black soldiers in all colonial operations since ...
Part 2. Conquering Public Opinion
Foreword: History's Mark (1931–1961)
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...one of ten recalls one’s “first love.” Without the eternal emotions to which it gives life, whole swaths of our culture would fall: song would practically disap-pear, poetry would be but a shadow of itself, miles of film would become obsolete, thousands of actors would be without lines to repeat, without secrets to tell, in-struments would abandon the symphony, the ballerina would remain backstage, ...
9 Dreaming: The Fatal Attraction of Colonial Cinema (1920–1950)
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...in one of his last studies on colonial cinema, Marcel oms inquires into the ques-tion of the genre’s aims and limits.1 Pertinently, he highlights the near- absence of allusions to military conquest, from algeria to sub- saharan africa to indo-china. Watching these films, one has the impression that these things never even happened, as if France had simply come into possession of these territories natu-...
10 Spreading the Word: The Agence Générale des Colonies (1920–1931)
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...the d.scesire to inform the pub lic about the abundance of resources overseas and to increase the number of bilateral exchanges between France and its territorial possessions led to the formation of the agence Générale des Colonies (General Bureau of the Colonies), an oft- misunderstood organization, yet one that was in-extricably linked to the chronology of the empire’s conquests. The universal ex-...
11 To Civilize: The Invention of the Native (1918–1940)
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...the O.scther is a recurring anthropological fig ure in every field of social science. on the one hand, because fig ures of exteriority are the mirrors through which the substance and borders of collective identities are formed, transformed, firmed up, and reaffirmed.1 The other is endowed with “characteristics” that vary with the times, but that always fall between two poles: stigmatization and desire. on the ...
12 Selling the Colonial Economic Myth (1900–1940)
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...in 1815, at the end of the napoleonic Wars, France found itself with a colorful assortment of colonies: a few islands in the West indies, réunion in the indian ocean, islands in the Pacific, and two outposts on the coast of senegal. Through-out the nineteenth century, France positioned itself in order to reconstruct its empire. Competing with Great Britain, it set its sights on the af ri can continent. ...
13 The Athletic Exception: Black Champions and Colonial Culture (1900–1939)
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Black.sc athletes from.sc the French colonies began to appear in metropolitan France in the early twenties.1 They were represented in the media according to two models: black ameri can champion- athletes, who had become popu lar in France toward the end of the nineteenth century, and black colonial subjects. The im-age of the colonial black athlete was elaborated at the intersection of these two ...
14 The Colonial Bath: Colonial Culture in Everyday Life (1918–1931)
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Colonial Culture in France did not begin in the interim between the two world wars, though this period did establish rather definitive contours of that culture, and even saw its insertion into everyday life. it is not possible here to detail all the aspects related to the dissemination of colonial representations— illustrated news-papers, postcards, illustrations in vari ous works, games, stamps,1 and others—...
15 The Colonial Exposition (1931)
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From.sc the early.sc days of the Third repub lic until 1931, the perception of over-seas territories occupied by soldiers, settlers, and French administrators in met-ropolitan France was founded on the received idea that these territories and their inhabitants were part of an imperial entity: “Greater France.”1 This perception re-sulted from a set of projects highlighting the material benefits the overseas ter-...
16 National Unity: The right and left "Meet" around the Colonial Exposition (1931)
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...the am.scb.sciance su.scrrou.scnd.scing.sc the 1931 exposition in the French capital was quite strange, to say the least. The context in metropolitan France had been changing over the prior two years. Between 1929 and 1931, the number of colonial news-papers went from seventy to seventy- seven, the news media became colonial in the space of a few months, and radio- Paris began proposing regular conferences ...
Part 3. The Apogee of Imperialism
Foreword: Images of an Empire's Demise
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...in the field.sc of history, the practice of analyzing (and utilizing) images began in the 1990s, with classifications and typologies. The sensorial shock of an image can both influence the course of one’s life and change one’s perception of history. With respect to the end of the algerian War, Jean- François sirinelli rightly asks, “do not the shocking photos in Paris- Match, with a French readership of 8 mil-...
17 Colonizing, Educating, Guiding: A Republican Duty
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...it is easy.sc to mock colonial propaganda from today’s perspective. For us, who are accustomed to integrationist discourse, who have been taught to reject ra-cial rhetoric, it seems easy to reject the sys tem of signs—the images, the modes of representation, the discourse—from the colonial empire. only those nostalgic for the colonial past—those whom we openly ridicule and stigmatize— persist in ...
18 Promotion: Creating the Colonial (1930–1940)
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...log.scically.sc, the prod.scu.scction of the most dramatic forms of propaganda began to wane after the international Colonial exposition of 1931—an event that cor-responded with the height of republican financial, material, and human propa-ganda on the colonies. indeed, this had been a one- time event designed to spark interest, an interest that subsequently facilitated subtler forms of propaganda. ...
19 Influence: Cultural and Ideological Agendas (1920–1940)
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...the 1930s m.scark.sc the apogee of the French empire, and the euphoria accompany-ing the international Colonial exposition of 1931 is perhaps the most obvious sign of the public’s obsession with the colonial enterprise. The propaganda generated by the agence Générale des Colonies gives us a sense of the kind of pro- colonial discourse in circulation, focusing on France’s civilizing mission, as well as the ...
20 Education: Becoming "Homo Imperialis" (1910–1940)
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...nov.scels, com.scic strips, movies, an abundance of colonial iconography all tes-tify to the existence of a very specific cultural apparatus that worked to deeply in-scribe the “imperial” into metropolitan culture.1 Moreover, this imperial culture, through targeted means of forming and educating the youth, was a major factor in the creation of a “Homo imperialis” in metropolitan France. it did this accord-...
21 Manipulation: Conquering Taste (1931–1939)
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...on the occasion of the international Colonial exposition of 1931, lambert- ribot, a spokesperson for the colonial lobby, stated, “Production is one thing, but we must also make known what has been created: there are raw materials in our colonies, and yet we look for them abroad. The primary reason for this error is our ignorance of our riches overseas. [ . . . ] informing an elite interested in self- ...
22 Control: Paris, a Colonial Capital (1931–1939)
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...the presence of immigrants from the colonies became “visible” in France in the late 1930s, particularly in Paris. Though this novel and much criticized—by the right and the extreme right, as well as by some on the left, and almost the en-tirety of immigration “specialists”—phenomenon is rarely associated with co-lonial history, it is, in fact, as much a part of the colonial as it is the history of ...
23 Imperial Revolution: Vichy's Colonial Myth (1940–1944)
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...“inv.scad.sced.sc and.sc d.scefeated.sc under the most troubling and painful circumstances in its history, France has little option but to withdraw herself with dignity. as such, in the depths of her tragic misfortune, France turns to her empire, looking for comfort and consolation, and most of all for a reason to be proud and to believe in the nation.”1 These opening lines of a brochure published for the imperial Fort-...
24 The Colonial Economy: Between Propaganda Myths and Economic Reality (1940–1955)
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...ov.scer the cou.scrse of the second World War, the empire became increasingly perceived in the popu lar imagination as an extension of the national territory. inextricably bound to an affirmation of imperial culture, this notion was legit-imized in and through the colonial space, which for its part was seen as indis-pensable to the nation’s future. during this period, propagandist rhetoric argued ...
25 French Unity: The Dream of a United France (1946–1960)
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With the C.sconstitu.sction of 1946, one could no longer officially speak of France and its colonial empire. There was now one entity, the French union, which in-cluded both metropolitan France and the overseas territories. The term high-lights a desire for solidarity between the two entities and an assumption of egali-tarian association. However, today the French union appears as a vain attempt to ...
Part 4. Toward the Postcolony
Foreword: Moussa the African's Blues
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Gu.scstav.sce F.sclau.scb.scert once wrote: “Those who read a book in order to know if the baroness marries the count are fools.” i would add: those who read this text in order to find out how France is doing will have the right to feel cheated, for if you want a prognosis, or if you want to develop some kind of perspective on the situation, you’ll have to hurry over to Marcel Pagnol’s beloved Bar de la Ma-...
26 Decolonizing France: The "Indochinese Syndrome" (1946–1954)
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...und.scerstand.scing.sc the role of the indochina War in the history of French so-ciety from the sec ond half of the twentieth century, and the fracture it caused to the cultural universe of what we used to call the “metropole,” is not a simple task. research has typically focused on the po liti cal choices taken, the economic im-plications of such choices, the military history of the conflict, the ideological and ...
27 Immigration and an Emerging African Elite in the Metropole (1946–1961)
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...the 1950s m.scark.sc a caesura in the manner in which sub- saharan af ri cans were perceived in France. after the fig ure of the “tirailleur as overgrown child” from the interwar years, and before that of the mute and docile “immigrant laborer” from after the independence movements, af ri cans occupying the center stage in the 1950s were politicians, intellectuals, artists, students, and more. They helped ...
28 North Africans Settle in the Metropole (1946–1961)
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Mu.scslim.sc N.scorth A.scf ri cans accounted for a significant number of French forces from 1943 to 1945, with around 200,000 men on active duty during this period and closer to 300,000 if one includes vari ous operations beginning in late 1940. How-ever, their efforts went all but unnoticed after the war. Meanwhile, in the years di-rectly following the war, immigration to the metropole grew to previously unseen ...
29 Crime: Colonial Violence in the Metropole (1954–1961)
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...ov.scer the cou.scrse of imperial history, colonial violence in France has been pri-marily anti- algerian. This can in part be explained by the scale of algerian immi-gration to the metropole. officially, more than 250,000 algerians were living in France in the early 1950s, mainly in greater Paris, though also in the northeast and in the cities of Marseille and lyon. Most were factory workers and unskilled labor-...
30 Modernism, Colonialism, and Cultural Hybridity
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For all of aesthetic modernism’s self- containment, and for all of colonialism’s faraway- ness, the two activities were twinned. in parallel fashion they rose in the mid- nineteenth century, flourished for about a hundred years, and crashed to-gether in the third quarter of the twentieth. in this chapter, i shall demonstrate that there was indeed—in France, at least—a co- variation between the rise, tri-...
31 The Meanders of Colonial Memory
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...in her postab.scolition analy sis of the memorial process of slavery in the “for-mer colonies,” Myriam Cottias describes a “politics of forgetting.”1 Can the same description be applied to colonial history? The expression “politics of forgetting” suggests a conscious will to cover up; in the case of colonial history, forgetting ap-pears to be more of a complex and multifaceted process—about which the succes-...
32 The Impossible Revision of France's History (1968–2006)
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...a collab.scorativ.sce b.scook.sc pu.scb.sclished.sc in 2005, La Fracture coloniale, emphasized the role of the “national narrative” in the French reluctance to recognize alterity.1 The debates surrounding the law of February 23, 2005, which highlighted the “posi-tive” role of French colonization, resulted in a media frenzy regarding the issues at stake and their implication for the national narrative, what it says and what it ...
33 National History and Colonial History: Parallel Histories (1961–2006)
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...“the colonies. A.sc French debate.” This was the title of Le Monde 2’s special edi-tion on this “French malaise,” which featured five articles alongside older mate-rial: an interview with Pierre nora, “la France est malade de sa mémoire” (France suffers from Memory illness), an interview with Éric deroo, “l’image des colo-nies a tenu lieu de réalité” (The image of the Colonies Has taken the Place of re-...
34 The Illusion of Decolonization (1956–2006)
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For the m.scost part, the facts are known. Far from constituting a rupture, the independence of the vast majority of sub- saharan French territories to arise with the emergence of the Fifth repub lic (in clud ing the mandated territories of togo and Cameroon, which went to France after the First World War), was instead the beginning of a new relationship, a new history between France and the af ri-...
35 The Difficult Art of Exhibiting the Colonies
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Collecting.sc and.sc coloniz.scing.sc went hand in hand from the early days of eu-ropean discovery and takeover of overseas domains. The first explorers, adven-turers, and traveling scientists as well as the conquerors planting the flags of their nations over faraway lands acquired and returned to europe with hundreds of thousands of exotic objects.1 at a later stage, institutions involved in imperi-...
Part 5. The Time of Inheritance
Foreword: The Age of Contempt, or the Legitimization of France's Civilizing Mission
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...in these trou.scb.scled.sc times when the question of memorial laws triggers emo-tional and polemic responses and when a president of the repub lic (in this case Jacques Chirac) reclaimed the term “Civilization,” it seems legitimate to exam-ine the anamnesis of a process that for too long has been buried in our subcon-scious as a result of amnesty laws and our collective amnesia. This process has its ...
36 Trouble in the Republic: Disturbing Memories, Forgotten Territories
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...i am.sc less concerned.sc with untangling the relationship between collective and personal memories, or between memory and history, than with showing once more the reticence on the part of the French academic “nomenclature” to integrate the colony into discussions, notably, at a time of pub lic debate on the slave trade, slavery, and colonialism. Critical and negative reactions have abounded with re-...
37 Competition between Victims
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...in com.scfortab.scle W.scest ern societies, we are able to run from suffering and after success, happiness, health, and eternal youth. Though we do not say it out loud, we long for immortality, and our faith in ever- evolving progress has led us to believe in a future without suffering. yet, until recently, the monotheistic homo religiosus suffered for and by God. He believed in the redemptive function of suffering. re-...
38 The Army and the Construction of Immigration as a Threat (1961–2006)
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...the arm.scy.sc is far from being “une grande muette.”1 it communicates a lot, some-times even on activities it presents as “secret,” and regularly generates reports on “threats”2 and how to handle them, which are then disseminated as widely as pos-sible through out vari ous networks. French military doctrine counts as part of its mission of national defense and the promotion of a “spirit of defense” within the ...
39 Postcolonial Culture in the Army and the Memory of Overseas Combatants (1961–2006)
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...in 1962, F.scrance withdrew from algeria back to the French mainland, leaving be-hind several centuries of colonial history and almost a hundred years of perma-nent presence on all continents. The army was on the front lines of these events. The whole army. not just a group of specialized troops. in algeria, the first units to disembark in 1830 belonged to troops that would later be called “metropolitans.” ...
40 Republican Integration: Reflections on a Postcolonial Issue (1961–2006)
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...in the 1980s and 1990s, integration became a catchword, an incontrovertible re-frain in po liti cal discourse for government intervention, used by nonprofit orga-nizations, social experts, and researchers.1 Though his tori cally a highly charged term, this “notion” has annihilated the possibility of criti cal distance. integra-tionist rhetoric has functioned as a kind of self- fulfilling prophecy, finding its ...
41 Colonial Influences and Tropes in the Field of Literature
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...the focu.scs of this chapter will be provided by a consideration of a postcolonial approach to literature and its utility to French literary studies. a post colonial methodology considers colonial influences and tropes in literary production, and works to reveal them. let it first be noted that postcolonialism—in terms of its focus on the colonial influences and tropes in literary production—is already an ...
42 From Colonial History to the Banlieues (1961–2006)
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...the ex.scpression “A.sc leopard can’t change its spots” comes to mind while think-ing of the social unrest that took place in France’s banlieues housing projects dur-ing the autumn of 2005 when Prime Minister dominique de villepin resorted to a 1955 law in order to impose a curfew. did he not realize that this same legis-lation led to the massacre of between two and three hundred perfectly peaceful ...
43 Can We Speak of a Postcolonial Racism? (1961–2006)
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...to the q.scu.scestion of whether or not we can speak of a postcolonial racism, we ask another: How can we not? How can we speak of contemporary forms of rac-ism without referring to their primary genealogies: systems of slavery and colo-nialism? How can we possibly negate the fact that a deep racism exists, which can be traced back to the French colonial empire’s institutions, practices, discourse, ...
44 From Colonial Stereotypes to the Postcolonial Gaze: The Need for an Evolution of the Imaginary
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...there ex.scists no communication without a representation of the other, because the other is never a “reality,” but a virtuality. admittedly, this virtuality was able to acquire the (illusory) image of a “reality” in the colonial space, because the colo-nized other had a status, actually a nonstatus, that was relatively coherent within the dominant colonial stereotype. This means that some people were able to be-...
45 Postcolonial Cinema, Song, and Literature: Continuity or Change? (1961–2006)
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...in 1962, a young, slightly chubby pied- noir, still quite clumsy in front of the cam-eras, sang for the first time on French television: “i have left my country / i have left my home / My life, my sad life / drags on without reason.” This was of course enrico Macias. France had just exited—at last—a cycle of wars that had started in May 1940, and was entering a new era with this ballad from overseas. at the apex ...
46 Ethnic Tourism: Symbolic Reconquest? (1961–2006)
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...does ethnic tou.scrism.sc lend itself to postcolonial analy sis? one must attempt to understand the construction of the gaze on “exoticism” in order to verify the hypothesis of a symbolic inheritance from the colonial era. With this in mind, my analy sis relies on the discourse and images found in the brochures of twelve tour operators specializing in the sale of “ethnic” destinations in order to deter-...
47 Francophonie and Universality: The Evolution of Two Intertwined Notions (1961–2006)
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...depend.scing.sc on the geographical, his tori cal, or po liti cal context, “Francophonie” has acquired different meanings.1 For onésime reclus, the geographer who coined the term in the nineteenth century, it referred to the place “where French rules.”2 anticipating the definition that was to be adopted more than a century later, onésime reclus included among Francophones all who were “destined to remain ...
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Page Count: 648
Publication Year: 2013