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Hegemony and ambiguity: discourses, counter-discourses and hidden meanings in French depictions of the conquest and settlement of Algeria

Gill, Helene (2006) Hegemony and ambiguity: discourses, counter-discourses and hidden meanings in French depictions of the conquest and settlement of Algeria. Modern and Contemporary France, 14 (2). pp. 157-172. ISSN 0963-9489

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09639480600667673

Abstract

This article examines the discourses to be read in painted representations of colonial motifs (and their modes of display) in France between the mid-nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, i.e. until the dawn—but not the completion—of decolonisation. It will analyse selected images, some of which have become emblematic as triumphant and/or enduring manifestations of colonial domination. It will question the readings and uses of such images from the time of conquest to the post-colonial era. This article's focus, however, will be less on the well-rehearsed dominant discourses than on gaps, silences, unanswered questions, misgivings and various non-dits which can be detected, on closer examination, in these works, their modes of diffusion and their reception by contemporaries. It will look for signs of ambivalence in the rendition of colonial scenes by the artists themselves (such as Vernet or Fromentin), who visited the sites of battle scenes in Algeria shortly after gruesome events had taken place. In particular, the paper will look for haunting visions of what had happened there, beyond the official, hegemonic discourse which was fashionable at the time, and which, in some cases, these artists had been commissioned to illustrate. The main argument concentrates closely on discourse and counter-discourse analysis, as well as the fluidity and the transferability of discourses across the colonial/post-colonial divide.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Online ISSN 1469-9869
Uncontrolled Keywords:hegemony, ambiguity, discourse, hidden meanings, French depictions, conquest, Algeria, colonialism
Research Community:University of Westminster > Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages, School of
ID Code:2785
Deposited On:06 Dec 2006
Last Modified:05 Nov 2009 10:26

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