Archive | May, 2017

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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North Africa: a complex cultural miscellany (Part II)

The following is the second part of Dr Kamal Salhi’s reflections on problems relating to culture in North Africa. The first part appeared on 16 May 2017 and is available under ‘Related Posts’, and can also be found via the ‘Archive’ tab. Thanks go to Dr Margaret Majumdar for her assistance. North Africa: a complex cultural miscellany (Part II) Culture is not constituted solely by our collective images of ourselves, but also by our collective images of others. And those inherited images may be utterly destructive. The mere fact that a habit of mind is authentic does not mean that it is helpful. Prejudices, patronizing generalizations, false assumptions, and contemptuous attitudes may be deeply rooted, venerable, and steeped in tradition. Conversely, toleration and a willingness to embrace diversity and sympathy for people unlike ourselves may be the products of very recent experience: hence the hasty description of cultures or peoples who lack any official status as ‘minority’ or ‘marginalized’ groups, even though in North Africa they actually make up a majority of the population and have deeper roots there than the ruling caste. North Africans may eventually develop a way of describing the pre-colonial cultures in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt by reference […]

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