Postcolonializing lieux de mémoire
This introduction aims at defining how Postcolonial Realms of Memory builds upon Pierre Nora’s seminal collection Les Lieux de mémoire (1984-92) while fostering a new perspective on the French past actively informed by the memorial legacy of colonialism. After contextualizing Nora’s project, analysing his ground-breaking paradigm and exploring the concept’s complex afterlives with a particular emphasis on the criticism that has been levelled at it over the past three decades, the editors illustrate their conceptual framework and scope of investigation — the ‘Republic’ in its broadest sense — by introducing several representative realms including the Panthéon, seen as a metonymic example of a postcolonial realm of memory. This introduction’s objective is therefore to lay the ground for understanding the rationale behind the will to postcolonialize the French Republic’s lieux de mémoire whilst at the same time presenting the tools mobilized to do so. It ultimately highlights how the volume is imagined as a disruptive challenge to current nationally-focused understandings of sites of memory, a call to integrate colonialism and its legacy more actively into the practices and study of collective memory, but also an invitation to take in new directions the current debate at the intersection of memory studies and postcolonialism.
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