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Francophone literary archives at risk

Heywood, S. ORCID: (2018) Francophone literary archives at risk. In: Sutton, D. C. ORCID: and Livingstone, A. (eds.) The Future of Literary Archives: Diasporic and Dispersed Collections at Risk. Arc, pp. 75-88. ISBN 9781942401575

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As the Senegalese author and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor wrote in 1989, the “irreparable losses” of literary heritage “have been instrumental in permanently distorting the contribution of our peoples to universal civilization”. This risk remains important, and has become even more urgent with renewed threats from climate change and new forms of warfare. Much more work needs to be done to protect literary archives at risk at both a national and an international level, as well as to concert the work that is currently being carried out by myriad organisations across a variety of regions. This chapter explores initiatives within French-speaking transnational structures and contexts to protect literary archives. As one of the large language areas whose literary production attracts the attention of international manuscript collectors, and with large and unique transnational structures organised according to the shared French language and culture, the French-speaking efforts to address these issues are far-reaching and distinctive. To further promote the drawing together and sharing of perspectives, the chapter sets out some of the singularities of the francophone experience, and highlights differences in approaches and methodologies in the French work to safeguard global literary heritage. It explores this work through two case studies: first that of a French literary manuscript research institute, and its team that works in collaboration with local scholars and custodians on preserving francophone manuscripts in the Global South, and second, the non-governmental approach of a much smaller French literary and publishing archive. It is structured around three key areas where the French experience has been distinctive. First, it looks at the research agenda in French-speaking academia, and how this has shaped priorities and responses to the problem of archives at risk; second, it examines the supra-national structure of La Francophonie and the challenges and opportunities this offers; and it concludes with recent efforts to move beyond the state-focused approach that has often characterised French-led rescue work through attempts to develop smaller, non-governmental solutions.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > French
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing (CBCP)
ID Code:67950


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