The Colonial Legacy in France Fracture, Rupture, and Apartheid

Edited by Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, and Dominic Thomas
Translated by Alexis Pernsteiner
Distribution: World
Publication date: 5/2/2017
Format: cloth 500 pages
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-02625-5

Debates about the legacy of colonialism in France are not new, but they have taken on new urgency in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. Responding to acts of religious and racial violence in 2005, 2010, and 2015 and beyond, the essays in this volume pit French ideals against government-sponsored revisionist decrees that have exacerbated tensions, complicated the process of establishing and recording national memory, and triggered divisive debates on what it means to identify as French. As they document the checkered legacy of French colonialism, the contributors raise questions about France and the contemporary role of Islam, the banlieues, immigration, race, history, pedagogy, and the future of the Republic. This innovative volume reconsiders the cultural, economic, political, and social realities facing global French citizens today and includes contributions by Achille Mbembe, Benjamin Stora, Françoise Vergès, Alec Hargreaves, Elsa Dorlin, and Alain Mabanckou, among others.

Colonial Culture in France since the Revolution

I am excited to lay hands on Colonial Culture in France since the Revolution! Published by Indiana University Press in November of 2013, this ambitious book gathers together articles written by  an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars, writers, and intellectuals. Colonial Culture in France treats of a multi-faceted historical system, mobilizing a term, colonial culture, to describe “the foundations and origins of the contemporary cultural, political, and social landscape” and the ways in which such a system continues to inform narratives of  identity, memory, and history. This collection, which opens on a discussion of abolitionist movements in the mid nineteenth century and ends with reflections on present day issues,  offers the reader a long and detailed view of the postcolonial situation in France, with articles on such diverse topics as education, science, exhibitions, cinema, sports, propaganda, and tourism — to name but a handful. Colonial Culture in France is available both in hardcover and as an e-book.

Five things I’m looking forward to in 2013…

It’s February. Déjà. After the rush of resolutions for the new year, I’ve finally had a chance to reflect on what 2013 has in store: A new membership, publications, and exciting projects and collaborations. It’s shaping up to be a busy year; here are five new things in my world:

1. As of January, I am now a member of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), a dynamic network of translators, writers, and scholars, which seeks to further cultural exchange through the craft of literary translation. ALTA promotes literary translation through a number of top-notch publications and at an annual conference, which will take place this year in Bloomington, Indiana. Here’s a link to their site:

2.  In March, Lynne Rienner Publishers is slated to release African Lives,

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an anthology of memoirs and autobiographical texts, written by some of the finest writers from across the African continent and spanning several centuries. I had the distinct pleasure of working with editor Geoff Wisner and fellow translator Antoine Bargel on three incredible texts for this anthology: Tahar Ben Jelloun’s “The Fraternal Bond”, Christian Dumoux’s “Tenth House”, and Yasmina Khadra’s “The Walls of El Mechouar”. This book can be purchased at Barnes & Noble online for a 32% discount.

3. In April, I head to London for the London Book Fair.


I am really excited to participate in this annual industry event, which brings people together from all aspects of publishing in a three-day marathon of seminars, conferences, exhibits, etc. I particularly look forward to meeting fellow translators and reconnecting with acquaintances. Find me there at the Literary Translation Centre!

4. Late November will see the publication of Colonial Culture in France since the Revolution by Indiana University Press, a book I spent the better part of 2012 translating, and which — thanks to its breadth — makes for a thought-provoking and informative read. The 600-page collection of essays features pieces by an international group of scholars and intellectuals on the history and continued relevance of the French colonial project. You can purchase this book directly from the publisher.

5. As an advocate of all forms of book production — from the early manuscript to today’s e-book — I am delighted to be working with French publisher Aux Forges de Vulcain on an e-pub English translation of François Szabowski’s wonderful serial novel, Women Don’t Like Men who Drink.


The book follows the fantastic adventures of a modern Frenchman who moves mountains to find meaningful employment. But his plots and ruses end in catastrophe, forcing him to live off the system and take advantage of the people around him. You’ll learn to love the loathsome character in this entertaining social satire! Keep an eye out for the first installment of the e-book later this year.