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“Deconstructing the colonial imagination and reviving the painful memories that concern the French Empire”


Lhe French are ripe for collectively asking themselves the question : “Can postcolonial France form a society without looking back to its colonial past? » To ask the question is to answer it in part. Indeed, the country has the means to carry out this work on itself to reconcile memories. Other great colonial powers will have to do this introspection: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, began to reflect on its colonial past in the 1980s and 1990s.

This questioning of postcolonial France makes sense; it irrigates the entire national territory and concerns all French people. It is obvious that for many citizens who have ancestry from the former French colonies, this work will have significant repercussions.

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Indeed, violent parts of colonial history are very often concealed or poorly restored. This creates misunderstandings, frustration and pain among citizens who have a genealogical link with this former French colonial empire. Eurocentric textbooks intended for primary school and college, for example, must be redesigned from this point of view to take better account of these diverse memories, but of this common history.

Symbolic violence

These unspoken words create symbolic violence for all those concerned, in particular Franco-Africans, Afro-descendants and all those who have a genealogical link with the countries colonized by France. We have to find a way – through the co-construction between cancel culture and the history written by the victors.

We must take stock of the situation with social science researchers, historians, politicians and associations in collaboration with public and private institutions. They will accompany the reflection and the relevance of actions to be implemented on the national territory, with the local authorities and the organizations which so wish.

The objective is to deconstruct the colonial imaginary and to revitalize these painful memories which concern the French colonial empire by exploring elements of which we speak too little:

  • forced labor and the status of people in the colonies;
  • human zoos and colonial exhibits;
  • Senegalese or Malagasy skirmishers, Algerian skirmishers, Indochinese skirmishers, Moroccan spahis…
  • the political and administrative apparatus under the colonies;
  • colonial heritage in France (notably statues);
  • anti-colonialist commitments;
  • the absence of a colonial history museum…

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