17 October 1961
17 October 1961
This entry focuses on the resistance against the erasure of institutional violence from collective memory during the Algerian War in France with the example of the 17 October 1961 massacre of North Africans in Paris. As part of an ongoing effort to correct the state’s misrepresentation of the event to the nation, a plaque was inaugurated by the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, on October 17, 2001, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the event. The image of the plaque that reads ‘In memory of the many Algerians killed during the bloody repression of the peaceful demonstration of 17 October 1961’ resonates also in other cities around Paris as a corrective act of the great national narrative. Plaques and the renaming of streets, squares and public loci as ‘17 October 1961’ are memory initiatives that ensure the transition from state lie to the historical transformation of one of the traumatic situations embedded along the fractured lines between the colonial and the post-colonial. Plaques are akin to sites of memory, part of the process of healing traumas by keeping them alive in the present and represent the engagement of the post-colonial period towards correcting the distortions of silenced history.
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