You don’t screw with the Sahara”: African Dust & the Return of the French Nuclear-Imperial Repressed

William J. Perry Conference Room (Encina Hall Central, 2nd Floor)
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In-person event

Roxanne Panchasi, "You don't screw with the Sahara": African Dust and the Return of the French Nuclear-Imperial Repressed

In 2021 and 2022, traces of France’s nuclear explosions in Algeria during the 1960s seemed to “come home” in the form of large quantities of Saharan dust that multiple commentators characterized as a postcolonial “boomerang,” a reminder, the return of a repressed past, a haunting, and a kind of revenge. In her current research, Roxanne Panchasi considers closely the range of representations of this Saharan dust in France as material and metaphoric deposits on the contemporary physical, political, cultural, and psychological landscape. Pursuing the coincidence of the Saharan sandstorms of 2021 and 2022 with a particular moment of crisis and reckoning in the history and legacies of French nuclear imperialism in North Africa and the Pacific, the project examines this dust as memorial evidence, toxic residue, and imperial remains.

Roxanne Panchasi is Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University, Canada. She is the author of Future Tense: The Culture of Anticipation in France Between the Wars (Cornell University Press, 2009) and the founding host of New Books in French Studies, a podcast channel on the New Books Network. Her research and writing has explored a range of themes and questions, including: handwriting analysis in nineteenth-century France, the "uncanny" rehabilitation of wounded soldiers during the era of the First World War; history pedagogy; experimental and documentary cinema; nuclear weapons; and, mostly recently, popular music. Pieces from her current project on the "French bomb" in empire have appeared (or will soon appear) in History of the PresentFrench Fiction and Film for Scholars of France (now Imaginaries), Jadaliyya, and Apocalyptica: the Journal of the Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies  at the University of Heidelberg. 

The event is cosponsored by CISAC and Stanford-France Center. Your attendance in-person is requested. A Zoom link is available upon request at this link