Postcolonial Realms of Memory:
Sites and Symbols in the Modern Francosphere



October 7th & 8th, 2021


Invited speakers:

Étienne Achille (Villanova University)
Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool)
Lydie Moudileno (University of Southern California)
Debarati Sanyal (University of California, Berkeley)
Robert Young (New York University)

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 fueled by the will to acknowledge the relevance of the colonial in the making of modern and contemporary France, the volume Postcolonial Realms of Memory: Sites and Symbols in Modern France (Liverpool, 2020) addresses 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.

This conference seeks to consolidate and diversify further the volume’s work in making visible the thread that links the colonial to various manifestations of French heritage. The objective is to bring into sharp focus the ways in which the colonial aspect is inextricably intertwined with collective memory, and in particular to consider lieux de mémoire that are not covered in the volume, but which are also important parts of the network of sites and memories that have often been silenced by French national memory.