France’s President Jacques Chirac has called for the “indelible stain” of slavery to be remembered in a national day of commemoration on May 10, the first of its kind in Europe.
I found this interesting as it is a state-acknowledged remembrance in a nation that has not historically endorsed the idea of “race” in official documentation and legislation. I am further intrigued as I recall heated discussions between myself and my colleagues that work in the francophone world who claimed that French racism and slavery were historically not the crippling institutions that they were in the English and Spanish colonies.
The article also reports on the backlash to Chirac’s “Slavery Day” proclamation. Some historians are upset about the government’s attempts to dictate how history should be taught in schools.
A petition, entitled “freedom for history” and signed by 600 historians, was published this month calling for the repeal of laws imposing a certain view of history, including a 1990 law on racism, a 2001 law recognizing the Armenian genocide and the 2001 law on slavery.
I wonder how anthropology will fit into this debate….Especially given the recent Savage Minds post about anthropological funding from the French CNRS (National Center For Scientific Research) being cut as a result of the conceptualization of anthropology as being only “contemporary history.”
The complete Chirac “Slave Day” story can be found here: