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Postcolonial Realms of MemorySites and Symbols in Modern France$
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Etienne Achille, Charles Forsdick, and Lydie Moudileno

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620665

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620665.001.0001

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17 October 1961

17 October 1961

(p.109) 17 October 1961
Postcolonial Realms of Memory

Michel Laronde

Liverpool University Press

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.

Keywords:   Algerian War in France, 17 October 1961, Commemorative plaque, Devoir de mémoire, postmemory

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