The conflict in Ukraine has brought renewed critical attention to the ways in which propaganda can undermine democratic principles, bolster extremist far-right parties, and amplify polarizing, “post-truth” rhetoric. Indeed, iconography has always played a role in propaganda; studying it thus offers unique insights into how propaganda helped to form our colonial past, and how generations of colonizing and colonized subjects unwittingly came to see themselves. Many of these colonial imaginaries continue to impact society today, and there is considerable evidence that stereotypes, ethnological references, and lasting benign myths continue to shape contemporary debates on multiculturalism and immigration in Europe. The recent French Presidential elections show, individuals and groups still harbor forms of nostalgia for the country’s colonial past. As political positions have become increasingly polarized, some forms of activism seek to destroy the signs and symbols of a painful history, while others bemoan the loss of a glorious era. In this talk, Dominic Thomas examines and decodes various forms of colonial representation to better understand how iconographic propaganda was instrumentalized to legitimize and enforce colonial rule.
Dominic Thomas, Madeleine L. Letessier Professor of French in the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies, University of California at Los Angeles
Followed by a discussion with Hakim Abderrezak, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Minnesota, and Laila Amine, Associate Professor of English, University of Wisconsin at Madison
This event is a part of the Andrew W. Mellon Workshop Im/Mobilities: New Directions in the Humanities, chaired by Hakim Abderrezak and Laila Amine, and is generously supported by the Mellon Foundation.