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------------------ From: martin mourre <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2013 15:42:30 +0000 ____________ CALL FOR PAPERS International Interdisciplinary Conference Massacres and repression in the colonial world: Archives and fiction as a source for historiography or official discourse? Conference date and location: November 27-29 2014, in Lorient (Brittany, France) Organizers: Université de Bretagne Sud / Université Libre de Bruxelles Abstract December 1, 2014 commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Massacre of Thiaroye, discussed in detail below. Over the course of this conferences transdisciplinary sessions, Thiaroye will be used as a point of reference in identifying and discussing a number of scientific and ethical issues. The theme for this conference is the colonial massacre (as defined below) which includes Thiaroye. Selected papers will address one or more of the following topics: (1) Historians and methodology, particularly in relation to source material (2) Knowledge of the past: historical fiction and historiography (3) Historians and social commitment versus expected professional objectivity Context On December 1, 1944 in Thiaroye (near Dakar), 35 former prisoners of war (POWs) were murdered, 35 wounded, and 34 sentenced to one to ten years of prison. These colonial soldiers had staged a mutiny and refused to follow orders issued by the commanding officers of the colonial troops. Having left their country to fight for France, these soldiers were made POWs by the Germans in June 1940. Returning to Africa after four long years of captivity in occupied France, the military and colonial administration suddenly considered these soldiers a threat to Frances imperial power, whose foundations had been profoundly shaken by the war. Official reports provide key insights to the colonial powers perception of the reasons for the mutiny. According to the administration, German nationalist propaganda was one cause of the rebellion, as it denigrated the French army and its commanding officers. Contact with the French resistance and French Forces of the Interior is also cited in the reports as another reason for the trouble with infantrymen who were not morally, intellectually, and socially capable of understanding the grandeur, beauty and necessity of this movement [the Resistance] [ ] . According to military sources, contact with French women, and especially war godmothers, contributed to the sustained deterioration of the soldiers general outlook; these sources also indicate that the military also began to suspect the source of the soldiers income. In the reports, the soldiers financial claims are presented as unsubstantiated. The official history of the massacre is derived from these archived reports, and maintains that a military response was necessary given the danger these men represented. Several novels, plays, films, and pieces of music were inspired by the events at Thiaroye. This cultural material necessarily uses a certain degree of artistic license, but it is also endowed with the power to re-write reality. For example, although these colonial POWs were held in occupied France, fiction has generally preferred to cite Germany as the location of their captivity. The French overseas territories and World War II exhibition created a direct link between Thiaroye and former POWs anger upon returning from German camps to find that they were only able to exchange half of their German marks. Historical discourse aimed at the general public has therefore been influenced by the fictional re-writing of history, which has in turn been amplified by rumor. Breaking point was not the result of a bad currency exchange, nor even of a lower exchange rate between French francs and CFA francs, as was erroneously depicted in Sembène Ousmanes film, Camp de Thiaroye. The fundamental cause of the revolt lay in the deliberate refusal by highest military authorities stationed in Dakar to comply with back pay regulations from which these former POWs should have benefited. Curiously, this major claim does not explicitly appear in the reports. The traumatic event of Thiaroye remained cloaked in silence: not a single French newspaper covered it at the time. The massacre only aroused the interest of historians at a later date when, at the end of the 1970s, Canadian Myron J. Echenberg began analyzing it as a key factor in the African peoples struggle to wrest a dignity for themselves, which they had been denied by the colonial system . Although further research has been carried out on the subject, it has failed to query and call into question archive content as well as the veracity of official reports. Following the disappearance of circulars that would have made it possible to understand the soldiers justifications for their claims, in-depth research involving a thorough sorting, cross-checking, and gathering of expert opinions made it possible to contradict the official historical record which absolved the army from all responsibility. Evidence has come to light showing the spoliation of former POWs claims, as well as a truncated approach to drafting reports. These encourage us to consider the implications and ramifications of a collective blindness as practiced by a number of historians, as well as most high-level civil and military authorities. Political authorities, represented by French President François Hollande, have just added another layer of complexity to the relationship between the researcher and his or her source material by calling for an unconventional use of these archives: Give Senegal all of Frances archives on this issue to be exhibited at the Thiaroye memorial . Was this simply an unfortunate mistake - these archives are not transferrable or was it instead a way of discharging France from its responsibility by instead putting the burden of uncovering this massacre onto Senegal? This conference will focus on what Jacques Sémelin defined as colonial massacres, which are usually a collective act that destroys non-combatants: men, women, children, or unarmed soldiers. Political authorities order these repressions, and their aim is to prevent protests or mass uprisings through the use of restrictions or violence. In the colonial context, there is an additional objective to dominate and subjugate the civilian population through violence. We are particularly interested in gruesome repressions that are linked to independence movements, as well as the process required in order to officially recognize these events as massacres. Comparative studies that consider different colonial regimes will make it possible to broaden our analysis of these historical facts that have long been concealed behind a wall of silence, yet which are clearly etched in the memories of the victimized people. Not every massacre constitutes a genocide, and given that the term elicits quite substantial controversy, the notion of genocide is not addressed in this call for papers. Thematic I Manufacturing history Gruesome events were often committed with full impunity and legitimized by the authorities in power, the records of which are consigned to the archives. Here it will be a matter of questioning the content of archived sources, as well as their reliability. Is the veracity of an archived document self-evident? What is the position of historians and archivists in relation to documents in the search for truth (neutrality, objectivity, responsibility, sincerity, etc.)? What balance of power between historiography and official discourse can be achieved, and what actions accelerate scientific evolution and awareness? Thematic II Historiography and historical fiction Literature, film, and graphic novels are often inspired by acts of oppression and the struggles for emancipation. What is literature trying to achieve when it uses a past reality? What can literature or film achieve that is beyond the reach of historiography? How can a novelists work contribute to that of the historian? Also, historical fiction often contains errors, a pretext which certain critics and political figures use to radically discredit authors. How should we react to historical errors? However appalling they may be, are errors always condemnable? Can errors be explained by a given socio-political context, or the knowledge available at a given time? Is it possible to interpret errors,particularly using the structure of the work, or inter-textual analysis? Also, how does fiction influence a collective memory as well as historiographic discourse. It would be a matter of assessing the porosity or permeability of these different methods of understanding the past. Thematic III The historians commitment and political authorities Researchers are invited to submit papers on the role of historians and archivists in relation to requests for rehabilitation, reparations, and justice, as well as on the frequent silence and lack of response from political authorities in terms of condemnable abuses. For example, financial compensation for the Mau Mau in Kenya who were victims of atrocities committed during British colonization, is a direct result of historian David M. Andersons research and arduous struggle for justice. Socio-political commitment and a sustained questioning of mainstream political and media discourse are often considered incompatible with an historians real, legitimate work. As soon as the scientific information available makes it possible to re-write colonial history, which is often disturbing for political and military authorities, why is it considered taboo to reveal such new discoveries through the media or other information outlets, and to immediately suspect scientific failure? What is the role of the historian when confronted with State lies and compromised principles? It is a matter of questioning an historians personal courage, determination, and responsibility, and to outline the boundaries for these concepts. The new perspective that emerges from research on colonial massacres will make it possible to reflect on historiographic practices and perhaps reconcile different methodological and ethical approaches that are the key aspects of an historians vocation. Although our conference concentrates on massacres perpetrated by European empires in the 19th and 20th Centuries, we will consider other papers that would contribute to the debate. Submission requirements Proposals must be e-mailed and received by February 1, 2014 at the latest. Please send an abstract (maximum of 2000 characters) as well as a title and short curriculum vitæ to both Armelle Mabon and Sabrina Parent. Candidates will be notified in early March 2014. Contact information: email@example.com Sabrina.Parent@ulb.ac.be Proposals in English must be submitted to Sabrina Parent Organizing Committee Armelle Mabon, Université de Bretagne Sud Sabrina Parent, F.R.S.-FNRS / Université Libre de Bruxelles (Philixte, Mondes modernes et contemporains) Martin Mourre, EHESS/Université de Montréal Xavier Luffin, Université Libre de Bruxelles Scientific Committee Idrissou Alioum, Université de Yaoundé Raphaëlle Branche, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne Charles Forsdick, University of Liverpool Frédéric Garan, Université de la Réunion Pieter Lagrou, Université Libre de Bruxelles Xavier Luffin, Université Libre de Bruxelles Armelle Mabon, Université de Bretagne Sud Véronique Mercier, Archives départementales du Lot Martin Mourre, EHESS/Université de Montréal David Murphy, University of Stirling Pap Ndiaye, Sciences Po Paris Nicolas Offenstadt, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne Sabrina Parent, Université Libre de Bruxelles Jacques Sémelin, CERI (CNRS-Sciences Po) Ibrahima Thioub, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar -- --