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French Memory Laws and the Ambivalence About the Meaning of Colonialism

  • Stiina Löytömäki
Chapter

Abstract

This article analyses the historical narratives that the French memory laws about colonialism construct, and reflects on the laws’ implications for French national identity. The Taubira law dating from 2001 characterises slavery of the past as a crime against humanity. The subsequent law about the ‘positive’ aspects of colonialism, the law of February 2005, prescribed that school programs were to focus on the ‘positive aspects’ of colonialism. Thus seemingly opposing narratives about colonialism have been inscribed in French legislation. Although memory laws establish ‘state-sponsored history’, the French laws about colonialism are at the same time manifestations of contests of different narratives about slavery and colonialism in French society, and of disputes concerning memory in contemporary societies in general.

Keywords

Memory law Colonialism Slavery Taubira law 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stiina Löytömäki
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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