Francophone Culture and the Postcolonial Fascination with Ethnic Crimes and Colonial Aura (Studies in French Civilization S. v. 37)

Francophone Culture and the Postcolonial Fascination with Ethnic Crimes and Colonial Aura (Studies in French Civilization S. v. 37)

By: Michael F. O'Riley (author)Hardback

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This book demonstrates how both postcolonial France and the Maghreb cultural identity, and memory are structured in large part through a dialogue with colonial history that impedes a confrontation with contemporary issues important to the present and future of those geographical territories. Cultural Memory and Colonial Haunting between France and the Maghreb represents a comprehensive and cohesive collection of scholarly chapters owing to the breadth and depth of knowledge regarding not only colonial and postcolonial vestiges and on-going relations between France and the Maghreb, but rather all aspects of the Francophone world, as well as mainstream, French contemporary literary studies and theory and the "New Europe." Furthermore, this work is an important and refreshing contribution to the field of postcolonial Francophone studies as they relate to contemporary French society and popular culture. Readers will be equally impressed by the cogency and perspicacity of the author's many insightful observations and arguments, which will be of great interest to both specialists of French and Francophone cultural and literary studies. The reader will quickly and acutely become aware that this work was written by a top-notch researcher and communicator who knows how to adeptly get his point across both clearly and effectively. The author is equally adept at drawing upon and incorporating into his research a body of critical and theoretical works to make his arguments that much more convincing and well grounded. As this study shows, the author has an excellent grasp of the crucial, cultural, historical, socio-political and literary themes and issues confronting both French and Francophone studies with respect to postcolonial discourse affecting cultural memories of the colonizer/colonized in both space and time. To the author's credit, this study poses some crucial questions and offers some possible, new theoretical and practical avenues to explore or investigate with regard to the dialectic of the Other, such as how the colonized can come to grasp with and fully define his or her own individual identity through the distorted mirror or prism of the collective and necessarily painful colonial experience. The author develops a comprehensive, theoretical framework to better grasp the complexities and problematics, the historical and cultural underpinnings, associated with the notion of occulted memories and, more importantly, the evolutive process or mechanism of forging identities. Drawing from the work of historian Pierre Nora, the author convincingly shows how France and the Maghreb are "haunted" by past, present and future "memories" or complexes, by colonial lieux de memoire or sites of memory, which perpetuate a polemical, mythical discourse and dialectic owing principally to an obsessive memorialization of colonial history. Such identifications with the colonial ultimately represent an overly deterministic, distorted, nostalgic collective vantage point. The author draws upon Michel Foucault's theory of "synchronic anchoring," among other theorists and writers, to make a very compelling argument to account both historically and culturally for these memory and identity distortions or shifts. Possibly one of the most important contributions this book makes is its lucid and illuminating discussion of the pervasive use of haunting as a theoretical metaphor. Examining the works of major theorists of the postcolonial such as Homi Bhabha, Ian Chambers, Anne McClintock, and Robert Young, Michael O'Riley points to how these theorists' work can be read as a haunting identification with French colonial history This unique interpretation of Anglophone postcolonial theory provides a highly original and important contribution to Francophone postcolonial studies, but it also demonstrates how theories of postcolonial intervention are frequently formulated through the idea of an affective, haunting colonial aura. O'Riley argues that the theoretical and cultural tropes of haunting so widely employed as a lens through which postcolonial culture identifies with colonial history create an impasse of postcolonial identification. Haunted by the images and memories of colonial history, postcolonial culture forges of the colonial experience a mythical and unique point of identification that precludes identification with contemporary issues of a postcolonial nature such as globalization. The author succeeds in demonstrating how the objective of intervention so common to postcolonial theory is frequently vitiated by the haunting, singular, and quasi-mythical place that colonial history occupies within it. Michael O'Riley's identification of the role that French colonial history places within these dynamics of postcolonial theory is significant and will be of great interest to scholars of the postcolonial. O'Riley's analyses and conclusions stress the need and urgency, as suggested in the works of authors of Maghrebian descent, such as Tahar Ben Jelloun, Leila Sebbar, Assia Djebar, and Azouz Begag, to surpass or "transgress" this overly static and confining dialectic to create what the author calls "the emergence of a nuanced form of postcolonial memory" which would, correspondingly, lead to renewed, healthier or more constructive and dynamic perspectives and understandings between former colonizer and colonized. Following the theoretical discussion of postcolonial haunting, O'Riley examines how postcolonial figures demonstrate in different ways the obstacles and potential solutions to the imprisonment that colonial sites of memory often present to contemporary relations within and between France and the Maghreb. In other words, even though the author acknowledges that the road is laden with obstacles and pitfalls associated with recalling the past and looking to the future on the part of both French and Maghrebians, he makes the point that these surrogate "memories" are yet only beginning to be (re)written and their entire significance and impact to be understood and appreciated.

About Author

Jean-Luc Desalvo is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at San Jose State University. He is the author of Le topos du mundus inversus dans l'oeuvre d'Antonine Maillet (San Francisco: International Scholars Publications, 1999), and of numerous articles on Francophone literature.


Preface, i; Acknowledgements, v; Introduction, 1; Haunting and Colonial Lieux de Memoire; Chapter 1, 53; Colonial Traces, Native Informants, and the New Europe in the Silent Images of Zinedine Zidane and Sylvie Germain's Opera Muet; Chapter 2, 89; Overlapping Memories of Imperialism: Postcolonial Community and the Legacies of World War II and the Algerian War in Tahar Ben Jelloun's Les Raisins de la galere and Leila Sebbar's La Seine etait rouge; Chapter 3, 121; Postcolonial Haunting in Assia Djebar's Les Nuits de Strasbourg and La Femme sans sepulture. Chapter 4, 164; Beyond Franco-Algerian Colonial History: The Place of Colonial-Era Orientalism and Victimization in the Work of Azouz Begag and Leila Sebbar; Works Cited, 211; Index, 227.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780773461185
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 240
  • ID: 9780773461185
  • ISBN10: 0773461183

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