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Lieu de mémoire, lieu d’oubli, lieu de réparation?: the colonial house in contemporary Mauritian art and literature

Waters, J. (2021) Lieu de mémoire, lieu d’oubli, lieu de réparation?: the colonial house in contemporary Mauritian art and literature. Francosphères, 10 (1). pp. 43-62. ISSN 2046-3839

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3828/franc.2021.4


The destruction of the vernacular case créole has emerged as a striking, recurrent theme in contemporary Mauritian cultural production, as well as a cause of much heated public debate. Reflecting contrasting conceptions of a lieu de mémoire – linked, paradoxically, to processes of memory, loss, forgetting and occlusion - this article explores the diverse representations of the colonial house and its destruction in recent artistic works (by Florent Beusse and Jano Couacaud) and novels (by J.M.G Le Clézio and Gabrielle Wiehe). Initially, the artistic works appear to be motivated by a nostalgic yearning for ‘lost traditions, wrecked ways of life’ (Nora): but close analysis hints at a different story hidden behind the houses’ facades. In the literary imaginary, the destruction of colonial-era houses is portrayed not as the subject of nostalgia or regret, but as a necessary means of achieving long-overdue, symbolic reparation for historical injustices. As such, I argue, art and literature offer a site for revealing ‘latent or hidden aspects of national memory’ (Nora) – particularly around slavery - in the post-colonial present.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > French
ID Code:97890
Publisher:Liverpool University Press


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