Professor Charles Forsdick, University of Liverpool: 'On the Ruins of Empire: Postcolonial France and the Traces of the Past'.

30 April 2018, 1.00 PM - 30 April 2018, 2.00 PM

Lecture Theatre 3, 17 Woodland Road

Colleagues are warmly invited to our Annual Christianson Lecture.
 
Professor Charles Forsdick, University of Liverpool: 'On the Ruins of Empire: Postcolonial France and the Traces of the Past'.
 
Charles Forsdick is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. Since 2012 he has been the AHRC Theme Leadership Fellow for 'Translating Cultures'. He has published widely on travel writing, colonial history, postcolonial literature and the cultures of slavery. He is also a specialist on Haiti and the Haitian Revolution, and has written widely about representations of Toussaint Louverture.
 
The paper engages with debates about the legacies of colonialism in France and the wider French-speaking world. It analyses the limited engagement in Pierre Nora’s Lieux de mémoire with sites associated with empire, and underlines the importance of identifying such lacunae in any efforts to understand questions of postcoloniality in the Francosphere. The paper offers a detailed study of two very different but key sites of colonial memory: the jardin d’agronomie tropicale in Vincennes, location of the 1907 colonial exhibition; and the île des Pins, in New Caledonia, part of the Pacific bagne in which – in the 1870s – communards, Kabyle prisoners deported following the El Mokrani revolt and Kanak rebels were incarcerated alongside each other. Unlike other preserved and carefully curated sites of memory, both of these locations have been subject to processes of postcolonial ruination. The paper explores the meanings of this apparent neglect in the context of debates regarding the afterlives of empire in France and its outre-mer. It interrogates the dynamics of conservation and decay, of remembering and forgetting, and suggests the extent to which sites that encapsulate the tensions between these processes exemplify the ambiguities of postcolonial memory in France and the wider French-speaking world.

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