Forthcoming Events

Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies In association with Liverpool University Press


Postcolonial Realms of Memory in the Francophone World

Friday 15–Saturday 16 November 2019

Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London,

Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Confirmed keynote speakers: Etienne Achille and Catherine Gilbert

January 2020 sees the publication of a major new volume in Francophone Postcolonial Studies: Postcolonial Realms of Memory: Sites and Symbols in Modern France, edited by Etienne Achille, Charles Forsdick, and Lydie Moudileno and published by Liverpool University Press. This publication responds to the absence of the colonies from Pierre Nora’s Lieux de mémoire project, a seminal volume of texts produced between 1984 and 1993, and which has been considered crucial for understanding the collective memorialisation of French history. For Nora, ‘un objet devient lieu de mémoire quand il échappe à l’oubli, par exemple avec l’apposition de plaques commémoratives, et quand une collectivité le réinvestit de son affect et de ses émotions’ (1984: 7); important historical figures, museums, archives, symbols, and events can all be defined as realms of memory which trigger a particularly emotive form of remembering the past. However, by focusing exclusively on the remembrance of the history of Hexagonal France, Nora’s project in fact erases the country’s imperial history and reproduces the static image of the nation-state it seeks to denounce.

This conference aims to examine the limitations of Nora’s project — and by extension, to interrogate the reluctance of the French academy to engage with its colonial and postcolonial history. How can we define postcolonial sites and symbols of memory in France and the wider Francophone world? How should France’s (post)colonial past be remembered today? How do other theoretical frameworks of collective memory — such as Michael Rothberg’s nœuds de mémoire — respond to the urgent need to conceptualize memory more inclusively? By reconfiguring methodologies of memory to incorporate French colonial and postcolonial histories, we hope to stimulate productive discussions about the intersections between memory studies, trauma studies, and postcolonialism within a Francophone framework.

We welcome theoretical and critical reflections on Nora’s Lieux de mémoire project as well as proposals for papers and panels on topics including:

  • Sites and symbols of memory across the Francophone postcolonial world
  • Remembering trauma in the Francophone postcolonial world
  • Theoretical conceptualizations of collective memory influenced and inspired by Nora’s project
  • Literary and cinematic representations of memory
  • Role of museums and archives in commemorating history
  • Remembering and forgetting
  • Individual and collective memory
  • Dichotomy between history and memory

Please send abstracts of 200-250 words plus 50-100 words of biography in a Word document to Conference Secretaries Jonathan Lewis and Antonia Wimbush ( Papers can be in English or French. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is  3 June 2019.


La Société des études postcoloniales francophones

En collaboration avec Liverpool University Press

Sphères postcoloniales de mémoire dans le monde francophone

Vendredi 15 et samedi 16 novembre 2019

Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London,

Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Principaux intervenants confirmés: Etienne Achille et Catherine Gilbert

L’année 2020 voit la publication d’un important nouveau volume dans les études postcoloniales francophones: Postcolonial Realms of Memory: Sites and Symbols in Modern France, rédigé par Etienne Achille, Charles Forsdick et Lydie Moudileno et publié par Liverpool University Press. Cette publication répond à l’absence des colonies du projet de Pierre Nora, Les Lieux de mémoire, un volume fondateur d’essais produits entre 1984 et 1993 considéré essentiel pour comprendre la commémoration collective de l’histoire française. Pour Nora, ‘un objet devient lieu de mémoire quand il échappe à l’oubli, par exemple avec l’apposition de plaques commémoratives, et quand une collectivité le réinvestit de son affect et de ses émotions’ (1984: 7); importants personnages historiques, musées, archives, symboles, et évènements peuvent tous être définis comme des sphères qui déclenchent une forme particulièrement sensible de se souvenir du passé. Cependant, en se concentrant exclusivement sur la commémoration de l’histoire de l’Hexagone, le projet de Nora efface en fait l’histoire impériale du pays et reproduit l’image statique de l’état-nation qu’il cherche à dénoncer.

Cette conférence a pour but d’examiner les limites du projet de Nora et, par extension, de s’interroger sur les réticences du monde universitaire français de s’engager dans son histoire coloniale et postcoloniale. Comment peut-on définir les sites et symboles postcoloniaux de mémoire en France et dans le monde francophone? Comment doit-on de nos jours commémorer le passé (post)colonial de la France? Comment d’autres cadres théoriques de la mémoire collective – tels que la notion de noeuds de mémoire de Michael Rothberg – répondent-ils au besoin urgent de conceptualiser la mémoire de manière plus inclusive? En reconfigurant les méthodologies de la mémoire pour incorporer les histoires coloniales et postcoloniales françaises, nous espérons stimuler des discussions productives sur les intersections entre les études de la mémoire, les études sur les traumatismes, et le postcolonialisme dans un cadre francophone.

Nous accueillons avec plaisir les réflexions théoriques et critiques sur le projet des Lieux de mémoire de Nora ainsi que les propositions d’interventions et de panels sur des sujets tels que les suivants:

  • Sites et symboles de mémoire à travers le monde postcolonial francophone
  • Souvenirs de traumatismes dans le monde postcolonial francophone
  • Conceptualisations théoriques de la mémoire collective influencées et inspirées par le projet de Nora
  • Représentations littéraires et cinématiques de mémoire
  • Les rôles des musées et des archives dans la commémoration de l’histoire
  • Souvenir et oubli
  • Mémoire individuelle et collective
  • Dichotomie entre histoire et mémoire

Veuillez envoyer des abstraits de 200 à 250 mots avec de plus 50 à 100 mots de biographie dans un document Word aux secrétaires de la conférence, Jonathan Lewis et Antonia Wimbush ( Les articles peuvent être en anglais ou français. Le dernier délai de réception des abstraits est le 3 juin 2019.


‘Unbound: Francophone literature beyond the book’
Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies: Postgraduate Study Day
University of Liverpool
Friday 31st May 2019

Keynote speaker: TBC
Careers session speaker: Professor Charles Forsdick (Liverpool)


A wealth of Francophone literature lies beyond the bound volume. Once considered secondary or supplementary texts, in recent years literary ephemera have been brought from the periphery and formed the basis of a substantial body of criticism. It has even been argued that to publish in formats other than the book is to publish ‘like a modernist,’ without which postcolonial literature ‘would not exist’ (Bulson 2017).

Perhaps the genre to have gained most traction is the periodical, notable examples of which include Tropiques (1941-45), Présence Africaine (1947-) and Souffles-Anfas (1966-72). Periodicals and newspapers have been analysed for how they have fostered nationalism – Anderson’s ‘steady onward clocking of homogenous, empty time’ – and facilitated transnational exchange, posing a threat to the Francophone empire ‘above all for the anti-imperialist linkages and alliances they practiced’ (Edwards 2003). More recently, a group of Creolist intellectuals, including Patrick Chamoiseau and Raphaël Confiant, chose to publish its Manifeste pour les ‘produits’ de haute necessité in Le Monde before releasing a bound copy in 2009. Such examples prompt reflections on how materiality shapes content, and how we as Francophone scholars divide art from artefact. The recent surge in the digitization of ephemera has undoubtedly drawn new critical attention to papers and small publications previously overlooked for want of easy access, but carries with it methodological concerns: for example, how digital format affects close reading, or how to archive responsibly on the internet.
Francophone authors have also used ephemera to experiment with form within the novel. Katia Rubenstein’s Mémoire illettrée d’une fillette d’Afrique du Nord à l’époque coloniale (1978) breaks up its narrative with newspaper clippings, thus bringing the storyline into conversation with global events, whilst Malek Haddad’s Je t’offrirai une gazelle (1991) constructs a self-referential narrative between the protagonist and his yet-unpublished manuscript of the same title. Items beyond the book have thus shaped individual narratives as much as they have the broader Francophone literary sphere.

We invite papers which cover any of the following: manuscripts, manifestos, posters, periodicals, pamphlets and other ephemera. We also invite those which discuss the representation of such items in literary texts, including bound volumes.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
– The national or transnational impact of a particular manuscript, manifesto, pamphlet or periodical.
– Nationalist, transnational, anti- or postcolonial networks formed or facilitated by a particular periodical, manifesto or pamphlet.
– The use of material beyond the book as a means of formal innovation within a particular novel or by a particular author.
– Methodological questions associated with the digitization, digital reproduction and archiving of ephemera.

Those interested in giving a paper should send an abstract of about 250 words along with a short bio to Orane Onyekpe-Touzet ( by Friday 26th April 2019. Abstracts will then be reviewed and participation confirmed by Friday 10th May 2019.

Organizing committee: Foara Adhikari (UCL), Charlotte Baker (Lancaster), Mohammed Bouaddis (Lancaster), Rebecca Glasberg (UCLA), Jemima Paine (Liverpool), Orane Onyekpe-Touzet (Warwick/Université Paris Sorbonne).

For more information, see