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At the Limits of MemoryLegacies of Slavery in the Francophone World$
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Nicola Frith and Kate Hodgson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381595

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381595.001.0001

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Shaping Representations of the Past in a Former Slave-Trade Port

Shaping Representations of the Past in a Former Slave-Trade Port

Slavery Remembrance Day (10 May) in Nantes

(p.90) Shaping Representations of the Past in a Former Slave-Trade Port
At the Limits of Memory

Renaud Hourcade

Liverpool University Press

Chapter five, by Renaud Hourcade, focuses on the process of integrating memories of slavery and the slave trade into the French national narrative following the 2006 inauguration of a national day commemorating slavery and its abolition. Concentrating on the former slave-trading port of Nantes, it investigates the aesthetic codes and cultural symbols that are articulated during the 10 May celebrations by local activists and politicians. A historical overview of these competing commemorative rituals is used to chart the process by which memory becomes institutionalized and thus the limitations of the state’s recognition of France’s slaving past. In doing so, it identifies an ideological schism between Republican-centred rituals that downplay contentious dimensions, such as racial prejudice, culpability and debt, and ‘real’ re-enactments of slavery that position racial identities and contemporary inequalities at the foreground of their commemorative performances.

Keywords:   Nantes, Memory, Republicanism, Activists, Taubira law, 10 May, Commemoration

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