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France's Lost Empires

Fragmentation, Nostalgia, and la fracture coloniale

Edited by Kate Marsh and Nicola Frith - Contributions by Emile Chabal; Olivier Courteaux; Kathryn Dale; Claire Eldridge; Yun Kyoung Kwon; Indra N. Mukhopadhyay; John Strachan; Sophie Watt and Akhila Yechury

France's Lost Empires brings together ten essays that collectively investigate the historical, cultural, and political legacies of French colonialism and, specifically, the endings of the French empire(s). Combining analyses of three "lost" territories (Canada, India, and Saint Dominigue) of the "first" French colonial empire, that of the Ancien Regime, with investigations of the decolonization of the "new" colonies of the "second" French overseas empire (specifically in North Africa), the essays presented here investigate the ways in whicih colonial loss has been absorbed and narrativized within French culture and society, and how nostalgia for that past has played a fundamental role in shaping French colonial discourses and memories. Beginning with the Haitian Revolution and its historicization during the 1820s and ending with an examination of the "postcolonial" republic at the end of the twentieth century, the chronological structure of the volume serves to reveal the extent to which the memories of territorial loss have been sustained throughout French colonial history and remain evident in current metropolitan representations and memories of empire.
In analyzing the longevity of these tropes of loss and nostalgia, and their importance in shaping France's identity as a colonial power both during and after periods of colonization, France's Lost Empires reveals a basic premise: it is not simply successful conquest which creates a self-validating colonial discourse; failure can do so too. Indeed, the pervasive and tenacious nostalgia for past colonial glories, variously identified by the contributors to this volume, suggests that, for some, the emotional attachment to France's colonies has not waned and remians today as it was in nineteenth-century France.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 202Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-0-7391-4883-9 • Hardback • December 2010 • $84.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-4616-3350-1 • eBook • December 2010 • $79.00 • (£52.95)
Kate Marsh is senior lecturer in French at the School of Cultures, Languages, and Area Studies at the University of Liverpool.
Nicola Frith is a lecturer in French at the School of Modern Languages at Bangor University.
Chapter 1 Introduction: Territorial Loss and the Construction of French Colonial Identities: 1763-192
Part 2 Part I: Nostalgic Reflections on France's First Overseas Empire
Chapter 3 Chapter 1: "Remember Saint Dominque": Accounts of the Haitian Revolution by Refugee Planters in Paris and Colonial Debates under the Restoration: 1814-25
Chapter 4 Chapter 2: A Celebration of Empire: Nostalgic Representations ofl'Inde francaise in Chocolat Suchard's Colonial Collecting Cards of the 1930s
Chapter 5 Chapter 3: De Gaulle and the "Debt of Louis XV": How Nostalgia Shaped de Gaulle's North American Foreign Policy in the 1960s
Part 6 Part II: Narratives of Loss: Decolonization Under the Fourth and Fifth Republics
Chapter 7 Chapter 4: Between History, Memory, and Mythology: The Algerian Education of Albert Camus
Chapter 8 Chapter 5: Alexandre Arcady and the Rewriting of French Colonial History in Algeria
Part 9 Part III: L'Inde perdue: France and Colonial Loss
Chapter 10 Chapter 6: Compensating forl'Inde perdue: Narrating a "Special Relationship" Between France and India in Romanticized Tales of the Indian Uprisings (1857-58)
Chapter 11 Chapter 7:L'Inde retrouvee: Loss and Sovereignty in French Calicut, 1867-1868
Chapter 12 Chapter 8: Alexandra Dumas's and Jules Verne's India: The French Republic of Letters Discusses Imperial Historiography
Part 13 Part IV: Memories of French Colonialism in the Late-Twentieth and Early-Twenty-First Centuries
Chapter 14 Chapter 9: "Le symbole de l'Afrique perdue": Carnoux-en-Provence and the pied-noir Community
Chapter 15 Chapter 10: La Republique Postcoloniale? Making the Nation in Late-Twentieth-Century France
This excellent collection of essays on the aftermath of the loss of Empire makes a significant contribution to the scholarship on post-colonial memory and nostalgia. Covering the period from the collapse of the first French colonial empire to the end of the second, it is essential reading for scholars, students and anyone interested in the cultural, intellectual and political legacies of France's imperial past.
Patricia Lorcin, University of Minnesota

This volume constitutes an important contribution to a more complex understanding of the evolution of French colonialism from the 18th to the 20th century. Through its focus on fracture, loss and nostalgia, the text reveals how earlier waves of colonialism inspired colonial actors and ideologues in later centuries. In particular, Kate Marsh's introduction provides a brilliant overview of the issues at stake in developing greater historical awareness within the field of Francophone postcolonial studies.
David Murphy, University of Stirling

This book captures a real intellectual exchange between scholars from several continents, with diverse chronological, national, linguistic, and disciplinary interests. The articles engage with each other and thus make visible how thinking with “Lost India” crystallizes certain common themes and upends some problematic commonplaces in postcolonial studies. The authors explore “infelicitous” chronologies; forgetting and memory; the intersections between territorial holdings and imaginary maps; and the extra-European as foundational for thinking intra-European conflicts. They all highlight how crossing boundaries—between British, French, and Mughal empires; “early modern” and “modern” histories—allows for new thinking. This, then, is a book about “French India”—where actual colonialism always references lost hopes and persistent yet out of reach possibilities—that will allow scholars to see that the time has come to resituate French colonial histories in larger contexts, what Kate Marsh identifies as “global concerns.”
Todd Shepard, Johns Hopkins University

Those interested in particular areas of the French empire, or the general phenomenon of the place of
colonialism in French society and culture, will find valuable essays here to attract them.

H-France Review

This original contribution to postcolonial studies offers several articles that will be of interest to specialists and generalists alike.
Oxford Journals