Nineteenth and early-twentieth century colonialism shaped the modern world in fundamental ways, with effects that are still with us today. By the 1930s, more than a third of the world population had been incorporated in formal imperial systems whose creation, maintenance and expansion was characterized by structural material and symbolic violence – the physical violence of conquest and of colonial rule, and the daily experience of suppression and cultural subordination of indigenous peoples. In settler-colonial areas such as Australia, the United States, external intrusion and the forced “removal” of indigenous peoples led to catastrophic human ecology crises and demographic collapses. In others, such as Algeria, colonial violence coupled with severe ecological impacts led to mass deaths. The Japanese empire’s expansion in China was likewise characterized by unspeakable mass violence. Since Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism the question of colonial genocide has been much debated. There were genocidal tendencies in colonial expansion but is genocide a relevant category of analysis in the colonial context?
The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention has asked Olivier Lecour Grandmaison, a distinguished specialist of French colonial history, to address this question as well as the ways in which colonial history continues to shape the present.
Prof. Lecour Grandmaison is a political scientist, historian and political philosopher at the Université d’Evry. He has published four important books on different dimensions of the French colonial experience: Coloniser. Exterminer. Sur la guerre et l’Etat colonial, (Fayard, 2005); La République impériale. Politique et racisme d’Etat, (Fayard, 2009); De l’indigénat. Anatomie d’un « monstre » juridique: le droit colonial en Algérie et dans l’empire français, (Zones/La Découverte, 2010); L’Empire des hygiénistes. Vivre aux colonies, (Fayard, 2014).
Convener and moderator: Philip Golub (AUP)
Discussants: Michelle Kuo (AUP) and Miranda Spieler (AUP)
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