Collective Memory, Legal Expertise, and Reports of the France-Afrique Postcolony

Sara Dezalay, Cardiff University
Ron Levi, University of Toronto
Sophie Marois, University of Toronto

This paper compares two reports in France, both commissioned by the French government, and both released in 2021: (1) the report by Benjamin Stora on “the memories of colonization and the Algerian war,” including Stora’s position that “[t]he writing of the history of the Algerian War is only now (re-)beginning"; and (2) the expert report, led by Vincent Duclert, on the Rwandan genocide. By analyzing these together, we focus on the symbolic redrawing of France-Africa. These reports offer the opportunity to consider how, in both situations, collective memory of colonialism is developed while the cultural and legal categories of “crime” and “responsibility” are being re-assessed. We comparatively trace the thinking through which crime and responsibility are being brokered in France to recast relations of France-Africa. We extend this analysis to how the fields of legal expertise and archival knowledge are deployed to tie together expertise across fields in redrawing the postcolony.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 176. Expertise, the State, and the Past