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La Contemporaine | University of Nanterre | 6–8.12.2022

I.Education, transmission

6 décembre

Sarah Moretti
Melanie Toulhoat
Christele Rabier
Maud Delevaux
Sarah J. Zimmerman
Martio Oppizzi
Bhawna Khattar
Anne Joly
Jessica Balguy
Louise Guttin
Yukiko Koga


Sarah Moretti (École normale supérieure Lyon/Triangle) 

History and geography teaching and memory issues in the French overseas departments: a comparative study in the academies of French Guyana and Martinique

This paper examines the evolving approaches to teaching history and geography in French departments of America Guyana and Martinique’s . From the second half of the 20th century to the present day, we will trace the interweaving factors that are political and identity-based demands in the overseas territories, the formation and dissemination of school knowledge and the sociology of public action in education. First, we will analyze the evolution of the adaptation of school curricula and the political sociology of the teaching staff in French Guyana and Martinique, before and after the memory laws of the 2000s. Finally, we will question the contemporary reconfiguration of centers-peripheries relations regarding public education by drawing on interviews we collected and recent surveys led  by teachers amongst their peers.



Mélanie Toulhoat (IHC-NOVA FCSH/IN2PAST) 

Popular education, literacy and representations of anti-colonial struggles in newly independent Guinea-Bissau (1974-1980)

In my paper, I will analyze different representations of anti-colonial struggles in didactic materials produced and disseminated in Guinea-Bissau after the country's independence, at the end of the liberation war led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), from 1963 to 1974. These pedagogical materials were used for educational, memorial and militant purposes, within the framework of popular education and literacy projects carried out to contribute to the effective decolonization of the country. These initiatives were led by a group of teachers, pedagogues, and activists from Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, as well as from the international left, and condemned in various ways the physical, cultural and symbolic forms of violence of the Portuguese colonial power.



Christelle Rabier (EHESS/Cermes3)

Filling a memorial or pedagogical void? Reflecting on the pedagogical experience of “Colonial Memories of Marseille” (2019-2021) at the EHESS Marseille

How to reconcile history, territory and academic learning about social science research? In 2019, the "Collective Inquiry" of the EHESS Marseille Master's degree offered an exploration of Marseille's colonial history to students for two reasons: on the one hand, the material remains of Marseille's colonial activity and their magnitude contrasted with the relative silence of museums and scientific research; on the other hand, most of the family trajectories, including our students’, of the Phocaean city have had a brush with colonial history. The pedagogical experience confirmed the immense scientific and pedagogical richness of the subject, but also the tensions at work on a geographical and political terrain that is still contested.


II. Appartenances, identités


Maud Delevaux (Université Paris Nanterre/IFEA)

Maud Delevaux (Université Paris Nanterre/IFEA)
Memory of slavery and Afro-Peruvian identity claims

In Peru, during the second half of the 20th century, artists and intellectuals of African descent became interested in "black folklore" and denounced its appropriation within hegemonic Peruvian cultural practices. Thus, through investigations and artistic creations, they demonstrate the "Africanness" preserved in a set of expressions, revealing the existence of an Afro-Peruvian culture. This project symbolises a real break in the elaboration of black identity in Peru. In this paper, I wish to study the relationship to the memory of slavery within this Afro-Peruvian cultural movement. This identity project is defined by the recognition and valorization of an "African heritage" thought of as original and anterior to slavery. The aim is to examine the ways in which this traumatic past has been articulated by the actors of the Afro-Peruvian cultural movement and to analyse the forms of memory developed within the Afro-Peruvian identity narrative.



Sarah J. Zimmerman (Western Washington University)

Sarah J. Zimmerman (Western Washington University)
Gendering Memory and the Politics of the Present on Gorée Island

This paper examines how eighteenth-century slave-owning Goréen women, signares, are represented and/or neglected in public debates concerning the legacies of French colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade in contemporary Senegal. These women occupy an ambiguous position in Senegal’s national collective memory and public history. Signares do not easily fit into well-worn dyads of colonizer/colonized or European enslaver/enslaved African. Their ambiguous position in the binaries of structural violence affiliated with colonization and the slave trade has made them awkward actors in teleological histories of oppression. Ultimately, this paper details recent public controversies concerning Gorée Island to examine the presence and absence of signares in competing claims over history

and memory in Senegal. Foregrounding women and gender, this essay reappraises the legacies of slavery and colonialism on Gorée Island—UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Martino Oppizzi (École française de Rome)

A Jewish memory or an Italian memory? The narration of the colonial past among the former members of the Livornese community of Tunisia

In this paper I propose to study the elaboration of a public and private memory of the colonial past by the former members of a very active minority in colonial Tunisia: the Livornese Jews, most of which were Italian citizens. This double identity – both Italian and Jewish – led to a complex history, marked by several political and racial discriminations during and after the Second World War. As a result, the departure from Tunisia during the decolonization led to the construction of contradictory narratives of the common past, as like as a kind of "diaspora of memories".
Based on the analysis of autobiographies published from the 2000s onwards by the old members of the ancient community, as well as on a corpus of about 30 interviews realized during my doctoral and post-doctoral researches, my proposal examines the mechanisms of memorial selection and re-elaboration of the colonial past.


Bhawna Khattar (Ambedkar University New Delhi)

In Search of The Language of Loss. Exploring the relation between family memory and national history in postcolonial India through the perspective of families affected by the Partition

This paper explores the connections between family memory and popular national memory, specifically focusing on the narrative about the ‘ideal citizen’, through the perspective of people who crossed the border during the Partition of India in 1947 and their descendants. Family memory is often produced in relation to the larger socio-cultural phenomena of the time and provides a sense of identity and belonging to individuals. The years preceding the events of 1947 in India were marked by a struggle for independence from colonial rule, communal tension, and envisioning and building a new nation, which is integral to our national memory
even today. While the idea of the homeland was formulated, millions had to leave their homes behind. Many scholars across disciplines have suggested that the trauma of colonial or communal violence can be inherited across generations through silences and secrets. Others such as Daniela Koleva, Alison Longworth, and Delyth Edwards have suggested in their work that national histories act to frame and guide family stories, even filling the “forgotten spaces of our autobiographies.” Although there is a growing scholarship on Partition memory, its consequences manifested in families and intergenerational trauma, the connection between the
personal family memories across generations, and the changing idea of the nation-state in popular history over the years, especially in a postcolonial context, remains understudied. The study seeks to explore: How the stories of families affected by the Partition are reconstructed across generations in relation to the national history, particularly focusing on the narrative about an ‘ideal citizen’, to fill the gaps in the family autobiographies/amnesia?



7 décembre


Anne Joly (La contemporaine), Olga Vanegas-Toro (La contemporaine)

Presence of memories of colonial pasts in the collections of La contemporaine

Memories of the colonial past are present in the collections of the institution, which is a library, archive centre and museum. The history of the constitution of the collections shows, however, that the archive department has collected documents of associations and activists since the end of the 20th century, while the library department's acquisitions were aimed at covering themes of political and social struggles, immigration and international relations. 
The memories of the colonial past are therefore to be found here and there in the archives and library collections. The way they are described has also a history reflecting the evolution of societies on the one hand and of research interests on the other. 



 III. Réparations, réconciliations




Jessica Balguy (EHESS/CIRESC)

The reception of the research on the colonial indemnity of 1849

In 2001, the so-called Taubira law was passed, which recognized the slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity. In its initial version – which was not retained – a mention was made of repairs. And for good reasons, this question has not ceased and continues to animate the debates around the past slavery, in France and elsewhere. In an international context of claims emanating from political, civil and associative actors, the REPAIRS research project has chosen to take this subject seriously, by attempting to shed scientific light on it. By producing numerous works widely available to the public, the REPAIRS project and its members have placed their research in a dialogue with society. The paper aims to present the main outcomes of the research and their reception, in particular the various research around the colonial indemnity received by the former slave owners after the abolition of 1848. The paper will show the complexity of this slave past revealed by the colonial indemnity, and the way in which these nuances were heard – or not.



Louise Guttin-Vindot (Sciences Po Paris)

Repairing the Algerian war? The Mohamed Garne case

On Thursday, November 22, 2001, the Paris Regional Court of Pensions delivered its verdict, after years of proceedings: Mohamed Garne was recognized as a civilian victim of the Algerian war of independence and a disability pension was granted to him. If the compensation is meager, the symbol is strong, as Le Monde wrote then. This communication aims to explore a particular case of reparation for violence of the colonial war by the legal system. Born in April 1960 from the rape of his mother, Kheïra, then aged sixteen, by French soldiers, Mohamed Garne was the first civilian victim recognized as such by law. Indeed, the thick legal fabric of the amnesty laws voted between 1962 and 1982 makes it impossible to undertake criminal proceedings for the conviction of crimes perpetrated during the conflict. By turning to civil justice, which does not punish but grants recognition and reparation of damages, Maître Jean-Yves Halimi, Mohamed Garne's lawyer, achieved a legal tour de force that was widely publicized.



Yukiko Koga (Yale University)

Yukiko Koga (Yale University)
Restless Reconciliation: Reckoning with Japanese Imperial Violence in East Asia

What does it mean, and what does it take, for current generations to redress imperial violence that took place decades ago? What are the stakes in reckoning with distant, yet still alive, pasts? Based on my two decades of fieldwork in China and Japan, I approach these questions through my ethnographic analysis of the transnational legal redress movement in East Asia, where ordinary citizens are seeking legal redress for Japanese imperial violence through unexpected collaborations: Chinese survivors of Japanese imperial violence and their descendants, over 300 Japanese lawyers representing them pro bono as a way to repay moral debt inherited from the war generation, and hundreds of mostly Japanese citizen activists. The survivors filed civil lawsuits against the Japanese government and corporations that enslaved them to seek official apologies and monetary compensation, leading to a number of historical settlements. This essay follows this process and explores what a settlement does and what reconciliation looks like on the ground among ordinary people who engage in the emotional labor of reconciliation. I illustrate how the work of reconciliation on the ground unsettles assumptions about where and how reconciliation takes place, who counts as victims, and whose needs are served.


Mercredi 7 décembre

IV.1. Patrimoine, monuments, musées

Beatrice Falcucci (Università dell'Aquila)

The former Colonial Museum in Rome: museology as a metaphor for the memory of Italian colonialism

The 2020 announcement of the rearrangement of the former Colonial Museum in Rome with the new name “Museo Italo-Africano Ilaria Alpi” probably surprised many, who were not even aware of the existence of such museum. The Colonial Museum of Rome was created to promote a renewed and aggressive colonial agenda, which climaxed in the brutal fascist wars in Libya (1928– 1931) and Ethiopia (1935–1941), and it continued to operate as a propaganda tool both in Italy and abroad (through the participation in exhibitions and fairs) during and far beyond the collapse of the fascist empire and regime.
This paper, after briefly illustrating the history of the former Colonial Museum, will focus on its vicissitudes since the dissolution of the Italian colonial empire: from the struggle to maintain the colonial possessions, through the period of trusteeship on Somalia, until its dismantling in the early 1970s, the museum seems to lend itself perfectly as a metaphor for the memory of Italian colonialism.
Finally, building on the controversial announcement regarding the museum to be named after the Italian journalist Ilaria Alpi killed in Mogadishu in 1994, an attempt will be made to frame the Italian case in the broader ongoing debate on restitutions, redefinitions and rethinkings of colonial collections.



Thaís Tanure (Université de Paris 1/CHS et Labex Dynamite)

Remembering a distant past: the commemorations of the conquest of the Americas in Nantes and Rio de Janeiro (1992–2000)

In this paper, I will analyze the initiatives of patrimonialization and memorialization of the colonial and slavery past linked to the commemorations of the conquest of the Americas through two case studies: the cities of Nantes and Rio de Janeiro. In Nantes, 1992 was the year of the first exhibition on the transatlantic slave trade. In Rio, the UN climate conference was an opportunity for different groups to express their views on colonialism, giving rise to claims that were exacerbated during the commemorations of the conquest of the country in 2000. These two cities were then connected by commemorative projects such as the cultural ship Cargo 92. This comparative and interconnected analysis is based on sources from the Museum of History in Nantes and the Museu Histórico Nacional in Rio, administrative documents, as well as audiovisual, aural and oral sources. The focus will be to examine the divergent representations produced by the different actors involved in the memorialization of this distant past.



IV.2. Patrimoine, monuments, musées



Marion Bertin (Université d’Avignon/Centre Norbert Elias)

Thinking a (post)colonial heritage: the “dispersed Kanak heritage”

This paper aims to understand the genesis and definition of the notion of the "scattered Kanak heritage". This concept refers to Kanak objects preserved in museums outside New Caledonia, with a tribute to the thinking of Jean-Marie Tjibaou. The "scattered Kanak heritage" takes the form of a catalogue of objects: the Inventory of Scattered Kanak Heritage. Temporary returns of objects also took place during exhibitions or within the framework of the "objects as ambassadors of Kanak culture" programme. The aim is to get a better idea of the process of patrimonialization, while emphasising how the "scattered Kanak heritage" represents a shared management method for heritage in a specific post-colonial context, subject to the indivision of the French State.



Berklee Baum (University of Oxford)

Etched in Stone? An internationally comparative analysis of how the treatment of two colonial memorials over the past century reflects evolving constructions and contestations of colonial genocide memory

This microhistorical study compares two colonial genocide memorials. The first is a pillar located in a military cemetery in the western United States, dedicated to the soldiers who died perpetrating what is now called the Bear River Massacre – the deadliest massacre in United States’ history. For over 150 years, the pillar and the sentiment behind it have remained uncontested. The second memorial is a boulder located in a military cemetery in Berlin. Similar to the Bear River pillar, this memorial honours German soldiers who died ‘heroic’ deaths fighting in a battle in what has now rightfully been labelled the Namibian Genocide. Over the past 100 years, this boulder has become a site of both far-right and far-left activism. Far-right groups lay wreaths and flowers at the base of the boulder, honouring the dead perpetrators. Far-left activists cover the stone in red paint to symbolize the Namibian blood spilt by the German soldiers. What led to the initial similarities and now stark differences in these approaches to memorializing acts of colonial genocide? What factors change how a community, state, or country reflects on its own genocidal past? This paper seeks to answer these questions.




Sandra Guinand, Maria Gravari-Barbas, Xinyu Li, Yue Lu (Université Paris 1)

Patrimonialization, memorial work and tourist enhancement of the former concession of Tianjin and Wuhan


8 décembre

V. Associations, militantisme, mobilisations



Clémence Maillochon (Université de Haute-Alsace/EASTCO) 

From Algeria to French Polynesia: how to reconcile nuclear and colonial memories?

Recent openings of archives from the Centre d'Expérimentation du Pacifique (CEP) are part of the continuity of memorial claims regarding the history of nuclear testing during the Cold War. We propose to examine the intersections of initiatives from the French State, the Polynesian territory and activists through an analysis of the paradoxical situation that exists between Algeria and Polynesia, two territories which hosted experimental sites.
In the first case, there is an official recognition and prolific literature concerning the colonial conquest, but the archives on the nuclear tests carried out in the Sahara still remain inaccessible to researchers. In French Polynesia, the situation is reversed, with initiatives carried by the State and the territory on the memory and various sanitary, environmental and societal consequences of the CEP, giving little relief to the political context which allowed the establishment of a nuclear rent economy.


Gianmarco Mancosu (University of London)

Lieux de (post-colonial) mémoire: transnational associationism and imperial nostalgia in contemporary Italy

Recent contributions in the field of Italian colonial and post-colonial history are pointing out the active strategies through which political, cultural, and economic forces tried to craft a biased discourse about the colonial past during the long and peculiar Italian decolonization. Along with such politics of memory, several associations crafted a recollection of that past aiming to strengthen a biased memorialization of their African experience. My paper will focus on the activities of some associations born in the aftermath of WWII, by paying specific attention to the Associazione Profughi italiani d’Etiopia (APE). The members of the APE aimed to help those former settlers who remained in the Horn of Africa; moreover, they lobbied the Italian Government to have compensation for what they had lost because of the Socialist nationalizations (occurring in the mid-Seventies). Drawing on different archival sources, my presentation will tackle the modalities through the colonial past has being retrieved and revived in the activities of those associations, in relation not simply to the construction of certain collective (and biased) memories, yet also in relation to more current issues (political agreements with Libya, Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia; racially biased understanding of citizenship and migrations; the anniversaries related to colonialism and the remembrance of people involved in expansionist endeavours).



Tièmeni Sigankwé (Centre national d’éducation, Yaoundé-Cameroun)

The memory that didn’t want to die from obliteration to the return of anti-colonial pent-up in Cameroon

This study questions and narrates the twists and turns of a subalternized use of the past: the memory of the colonial indiscipline in Cameroon. It shows how, since its independence in 1960, most of the memorial work carried out by official Cameroon has paradoxically consisted in withering and erasing the trace of those who claimed this same independence to the point of being killed (about 100,000 dead). Yet their memory has persisted in surviving. After three decades of clandestinity (1960-1990), this counter-memory took another three decades to take root in the public space (1990-2020). Today, it is pressing, noisy and obsessive. However, even though she seems popular, she remains dissenting and therefore, unmonumentalized and minor in street addressing. It is this ultimate glass ceiling that the memory entrepreneurs are now trying to cross.


VI. Relations internationales et dynamiques transnationales


Sahra Rausch (Justus Liebig Universität Gießen)

Colonialism as a “Crime against Humanity”? On the (im)possibility of political apologies

In 2021, in Germany and France apologies for the colonial pasts have been discussed in politics and media reporting. Whereas Germany intends to render an apology to recognize the “suffering” of the OvaHerero and Nama for the genocide committed against them under German colonial rule (1904–1908), in France, the formulation of an official apology for the Algerian war (1954–1962) is rejected as an expression of “repentance”. Both examples illustrate the importance of emotions in postcolonial memory politics. The paper examines the ways in which emotions make political apologies for the French colonization of Northern Africa and the genocide against the OvaHerero and Nama an (im)possible instrument in postcolonial memory politics. By entangling German and French memory politics, the paper not only analyzes the demands for political apologies as a pan-European phenomenon, but it also exposes the transnational effectiveness of discursively produced emotional orders.





Yves Denéchère (Université d’Angers/TEMOS)

Memories and history of the displacement of mixed-race children in France during and after the Indochina War

During the colonial period in Indochina - and especially during the war of independence (1946-1954) - tens of thousands of mixed-race children were born from relationships between foreign men and local women. From 1947 to 1975, the FOEFI (Fédération des œuvres de l'enfance française en Indochine), acting on behalf of the French State, organised the sending to France of 5,000 of these children. Initially colonial in nature, the project was transformed into a postcolonial enterprise. The memories of the transplant experience are plural among the people concerned, between recognition of the opportunity given and criticism of the methods of care. It is a question of seeing how the narrative is constructed between history and memory, what conflicts of loyalty and legitimacy are posed by the historical investigation, and also how the historian assumes his social role.



Christine Lévy (Université Bordeaux Montaigne/CRCAO)

Is a transnational gendered memory possible? The case of Japan and South Korea

Although Japan recognised in 1993 the existence of former “comfort women” – a euphemism to designate the sexual slavery of women in countries colonized or occupied by Imperial Japan during the long Asia-Pacific war (1932-1945) – their demands were not met and the issue became bogged down in a postcolonial-type memory conflict where nationalist issues, on both sides, eclipsed the feminist and transnational issue. Thanks to the Japanese-Korean feminist mobilization of the decade 1980–2000, these women were able to make their voices heard. However, thirty years after the Kōno report, no agreement has healed the wounds of the past. What are the obstacles to a conciliation between Korea and Japan on this issue? How effective are the mobilizations of the Korean diaspora abroad vis-à-vis Japan?


Beatrice Falcucci
Thais Tanure
Marion Bertin
Berklee Baum
Sandra Guinand...
Clemence Maillochon
Gian Mancosu
Tiemeni Sigankwe
Sahra Rausch
Yves Denechere
Christine Levy
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