Dr. Michael O'Riley is Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at The Colorado College. His work on postcolonial literature and theory has been published in Research in African Literatures, the French Review, Dalhousie French Studies, Mosaic, and other journals. He has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at Harvard and is currently at work on another book comparing colonialist settler mimicry in France and England.2005 0-7734-6118-3
This study examines the frequently overlooked problem of how colonial-era memories often become haunting, obsessive points of reference for contemporary culture. Examining the widespread use of haunting as a theoretical mode of recovery of occulted colonial history as part of its larger study of colonial memories circulating between France and the Maghreb, this book demonstrates the postcolonial imperative of moving beyond the categories of victim and torturer that frequently characterize the recovery of colonial history. The work demonstrates how in both postcolonial France and the Maghreb cultural identity and memory are structured in large part through a dialogue with colonial history that impedes a confrontation with contemporary issues important to the present and future of those geographical territories. Through a study of how popular postcolonial figures such as Zinedine Zidane, Assia Djebar, Lei1a Sebbar, Azouz Begag, and Tahar Ben Jelloun point to the necessity of transgressing the mutually shared history of colonial defeat, victimization, and culpabilty uniting France and the Maghreb, this work suggests the emergence of a nuaced form of postcolonial memory. The necessity of reconsidering the unique place that colonial history holds in these cultures as a mythical and haunting point of identification is borne out through analyses of how these postcolonial subjects confront contemporary and potential future forms of cultural identity. The work contributes a unique perspective to postcolonial studies in that it demonstrates how the colonial era continues to structure cultural memory. In this regard, this work offers a fresh perspective to debates on revisionist history and demonstrates how formerly colonized subjects and their children contribute actively to dialogue on the relevance of the colonial past in contemporary contexts where postcolonial identity is being forged.