Reconnecting metropole and fragment through a celebration of historical settler colonialism: Darryl Leroux, ‘Le grand livre de Champlain: Cartography, Colonialism and Commemoration in the French Atlantic’, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 2015
Abstract: This essay presents empirical material from a research project examining cultural ties between France and Québec. In particular, I turn to an exhibit developed in western France in 2004 and eventually displayed four years later during the commemorative events marking Québec’s 400th anniversary. By employing an analytical framework at the intersection of historical geography and critical race theory, I tease out the ways in which an exhibit marking French imperial genius designed and developed for a French audience in western France can make sense to a Québécois audience in Québec City. My argument, that the exhibit does so through the exaltation of imperial cartography and its civilizing order, is provided as further evidence that the rapprochement between these two French-speaking societies, quite evident since the 1960s, increasingly depends on an imaginative remembering of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries based on a shared identification with French settler colonialism and its violent excesses. The exhibit ‘Le Grand livre de Champlain’ provides us with several instances of the spatial and representational strategies currently at play in the building of the France–Québec relationship.
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