Paris’s Attempt To Whitewash Its Brutal History in The Former Colonies
Bringing together more than 250 researchers in history from all over the world, including French historians, a book of 720 pages written in French entitled “Colonisations, Our History,” which chronicles the French occupation in various countries of the world, and “invites us to look at the French colonization in the face, with the eyes of the colonized and the colonizers. The best specialists provide us with a profoundly renewed knowledge of colonial domination, its sometimes surprising forms, its devastating effects, its long-ignored limits, as well as its current persistence”.
The authors of this unique historical achievement about French colonialism believe that the new book, which was put at the disposal of readers on Friday, September 15, 2023, helps to look at French colonialism directly through the eyes of the occupiers and the occupied peoples, at a time when the issue of memory has been raised in an era entirely dominated by questions of identity and clashes of memory, this collective book restores in a lucid, accessible and fascinating manner, the great diversity and complexity of colonial situations in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. From colonization was born a history both rich and violent, woven from countless exchanges, which makes us who we are.
The historian who supervised and directed the work, Pierre Singaravélou, a French historian specializing in colonial empires and globalisation, and professor at the Paris University I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Panthéon, in coordination with Arthur Asseraf, also a French historian and a lecturer in the history of France and the French-speaking world at the University of Cambridge and whose work focuses on the history of media and information in the Maghreb and the contemporary Mediterranean. The French historian Guillaume Blanc, is a teacher-researcher in contemporary history, a specialist in the history of the environment and Africa in the 20th century and a lecturer in contemporary history at Rennes 2 University. Nadia Yala Kisukidi, a French philosopher and lecturer at Paris-VIII University, in addition to Mélanie Lamotte, a French historian.
The introduction to the book, “Colonisations, Our History” (Threshold) that is put for sale, states: “In an era entirely dominated by questions of identity and clashes of memory, this collective book restores in a lucid, accessible and fascinating manner, the great diversity and complexity of colonial situations in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. From colonization was born a history both rich and violent, woven from countless exchanges, which makes us who we are”.
“Colonized and colonizers were both linked and forever transformed by this experience which here finds its place – in many central considerations – in the history of France. To thwart the evidence and answer contemporary questions, this work starts from the present and goes back in time to the little-known sources of the so-called “pre-colonial” past. By inscribing the French colonial facts over the long term – from the 21st to the 15th century – of relations between France and the rest of the world, this global history understands its continuities, ruptures and singularities. So perhaps we will better understand who we are”, Pierre Singaravélou said.
The announcement of this book, which is unprecedented in terms of the number of participants in its writing, came in a very special circumstance, characterized by the persecution of France in its former colonies, by the people who fell victim to the practices of traditional French colonialism, and its new forms, which were remarkably evident in the African colonies led by functional regimes that operated from Paris, served only French interests and did not pay attention to what it must do for the benefit of its oppressed peoples during and after colonialism.
The publisher’s introduction does not clearly reveal the ideas contained in the book, but it is an indicator that may lead to questioning the contents of this book and the extent of its commitment to fighting the practices and methods that caused the extermination, killing, displacement, and plundering of the wealth of millions of peoples who were subjected to the French occupation in particular, and the Algerian case revealed that this colonialism is devoid of the human values and meanings of respect for mankind.
This indicator is represented by the fact that the historians whose names appear on the cover of the new work are all French, which is a given that leads to the belief that defending inhumane colonial practices, or at least, not condemning colonialism with the force it deserves, will taint this book, and it seems that some parties in the French state tried or helped to publish it at the current circumstances, hoping to whitewash the image of Paris’s colonial past, which is still pitch black even if the current authorities, headed by Emmanuel Macron, work hard to disavow some of its ugly practices, before acknowledging the responsibility of the French state in liquidating Algerian activists and French intellectuals who supported the basic human values such as justice and freedom.