Nadège Veldwachter is an associate professor of Francophone literatures at Purdue University. Her research focuses on literary sociology, globalization and postcolonial historiography. She published in 2012 a monograph entitled Francophone Literature and Globalization (ed. Karthala).
How would national histories be rewritten by placing at their center what has been marginalized - ‘repressed memory’? This book project will address this daunting question through a comparative analysis of rarely studied cases in European historiography and francophone literature. The first case is the occluded story of Black Francophone Caribbean victims of the Holocaust. Most scholars have consistently read efforts to construct a history of black victims of the Holocaust in the limited terms of an African, Afro-German, and Afro-American negrophobia. From 1942 to 1945 Caribbeans -- who took part in Resistance movements -- and Jews shared the same concentration spaces and, by extension, the same realms of memory. Despite the existence of archival authentication, there is no trace of this event in historical narratives of the war in general and of the Holocaust in particular. I, therefore, concentrate on this Caribbean experience under fascism and demonstrate that it encapsulates the tensions inherent in the models of citizenship and belonging that underwrite France’s relationship with the past.
The second case study concerns the conditions of publication and reception of the literary works born from the project, “Rwanda: écrire par devoir de mémoire.” [Rwanda: Writing in Duty of Memory]. By concentrating on the extreme censorship that Aimé Yann Mbabazi’s novel, Sheridan, encountered in the francophone literary circuits for delineating France’s implication in the Rwandan genocide, I will consider the ways in which literary and ideological concerns intersect and contradict one another. Does the memory of the Rwandan genocide represent the limitations of ‘realms of memory’ in Franco-African relations?
In short, this project creates innovative connections between literary texts, historical and military contexts in the growing body of research on legacies of war in France, the Caribbean and Rwanda.