Study half day reminder: “Crossing boundaries in the study of France and Africa”

Wednesday 18 February 2015, 1.45-6.00pm

Milldam LE1.03, University of Portsmouth

This study half day will bring together scholars and students from inside and outside of the University of Portsmouth to explore new ways of studying France and Africa. Our particular focus will be on crossing boundaries – physical, temporal and methodological – and the new perspectives on Franco-African relations that can be gained from such an approach.

Some themes we will explore at this workshop include, but are not confined to:

  • crossing geographical borders, to explore France’s relationships with different Francophone African territories, as well as with regions beyond the traditional French sphere on the African continent;
  • breaking down chronological divides, notably between the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods;
  • combining different historical outlooks, including political, economic, cultural and social perspectives on the past;
  • transcending methodological boundaries, such as between different archives and diverse disciplines.

In so doing, this study half day will highlight the ways in which crossing commonly accepted boundaries sheds new light on the multi-faceted relationship between France and Africa, in both the past and the present.


1.45-1.55: Welcome

1.55 – 3.15: Panel 1 – Labour and detention

Chair: Fabienne Chamelot (Portsmouth)

  • Romain Tiquet (Humboldt): From the civilization by work to the law of work: political economy and coercive methods of recruitment in (post)colonial Sénégal, 1920s – 1960s
  • Ed Naylor (Portsmouth) “La salle des Africains”: Immigrant detention in Marseille during the 1960s and 1970s

3.15-3.45: Tea

3.45-5.45 – Panel 2 – Challenging geographical and chronological divides

Chair: Kelsey Suggitt (Portsmouth)

  • Stephen Tyre (St. Andrews): Discovering Africa: tourism in late-colonial and post-colonial French-speaking Africa
  • Roel van der Velde (Portsmouth) – Crossing borders: French arms trade and South African military strategy, 1955-1970
  • Vincent Duchaussoy (Rouen/ Glasgow) The Franc zone: a successful monetary decolonisation?

5.45-6.00: Closing remarks and thanks


Please contact for more information or to register for this event.

Just a few words on the passing of Assia Djebar

Prof Margaret Majumdar, Professor of Francophone Studies, University of Portsmouth

Assia Djebar, who has died in Paris in the early hours of Saturday February 7th 2015, was not just a great Algerian woman but a writer and film-maker of international stature, who took her seat in the Académie Française in 2006 and received world-wide recognition and honours for her work. Like many of her compatriots, she did not perhaps receive the honour she deserved in her own country in her lifetime. In death, however, she will now be received back in Algeria with the full panoply of state ceremony.

She will be truly mourned, however, by her ‘sisters’, the Women of Algiers, whose voices and words from both past and present she endeavoured to bring out of the silence in which they had been confined . Her lifelong work has played a major role in de-exoticising North African women and extracting them from the shadows of the past and their seclusion, bringing back to life the hidden histories they have transmitted across the generations.

The Wassila/ Avife network, concerned with sexual violence and the mistreatment of children, along with other feminist groups in Algeria, will play a major role in the tributes to this courageous great lady, as will men and women across the globe. For Assia Djebar, while deeply rooted in her own country and its history, was someone who was attuned to the wider world and inspired by the need to ‘prendre le large’, as she would say. Fearless in her celebration of desire and the transformative, life-affirming power of the erotic, she was also someone who understood and championed the interconnections linking people from different backgrounds, challenging crude conceptions based on a simplistic duality, even in the darkest days of colonial and recent Algerian history.


You may also be interested to read an obituary for Assia Djebar written by Prof Beïda Chikhi (Sorbonne).