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Past and present, colony and metropolis. By Jim House.

Dr James (Jim) House is a Senior Lecturer in French at Leeds University. With co-author Neil MacMaster (UEA, Norwich) he has published Paris 1961: Algerians, State Terror, and Memory (Oxford University Press, 2006). This book also received a French translation in 2008 (Tallandier publishers). Our thanks goes to Professor Margaret Majumdar for her help. Past and present, colony and metropolis. Recent months in France have seen a number of prominent and disturbing cases of alleged police violence against racialized minorities. In circumstances such as these, historians are often asked by journalists and civil society groups to assess how and to what extent the colonial past influences the present, notably here with regard to postcolonial minorities, policing, socio-ethnic segregation, and racism. In discussing these themes, my article will argue that we often need to be cautious when claims are made for a strong similarity (if not identical situation) between past and present, an assumption that seems often to inform many of the questions I receive. It is precisely the historian’s role to examine the ‘space’ that exists between what may indeed be similar yet which is not identical between past and present. Rather like with debates on the usefulness or not of the […]

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From Battlefields to Burkinis: Encounters in Franco-African history in Shrewsbury

From Battlefields to Burkinis:  Encounters in Franco-African history in Shrewsbury Delivered at the new University Centre in Shrewsbury Wednesday 17 May last, this public lecture took as its starting point recent events, including the Burkini affair, that have put France in the global spotlight. Prof. Claire Griffiths (Francophone and Area Studies, University of Chester, c.griffiths@chester.ac.uk) invited the audience to take a journey back through four centuries of French history in Africa to explore some of the roots of cultural and political debates that today help define France’s role in the world. The Shrewsbury audience, ranging from sixth formers to local retired professoriate, showed a strong interest and engagement in the topics presented on the theme of Francophone African politics in historical perspective. The talk concluded with almost an hour of discussion around the outcome of the presidential election, including M. Macron’s visit to Mali, as was revealed through Macron twitterfeed on the day. The venue: Rowley’s House, Barker Street, in Shrewsbury.  

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