Comparing Frenchs in Casablanca and London: A Daring Experimentation As an Original Socio-Historical Approach of Post-Colonial Memory

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Sylvain BECK, University of Paris IV-Sorbonne, France
This proposal aims to provide a reflection about comparison from objects apparently incomparable: Casablanca and London. Actually, following the typology of Sassen (1991), the second is a global city that could only be compared to other global cities like Paris, New-York and Tokyo. This insight comes from my PhD thesis in sociology, defended in 2015, that is still regularly criticized because of this apparent incomparability. Yet, following a similar system design would be a normative standard that shall be counter-argued. Whether comparing similar objects allow us to make emerge differences, from a comparison between apparent different objects may emerge astonishing results or new insights.

Actually, I argue that everything can be compared if justified as said by the French historian, Marcel Detienne (2000) to dare experimentation and constructivism. In my PhD, the comparison with ethnographic and qualitative methods within both cities allowed to go beyond the methodological nationalism. As French schools and teacher's position were compared, this method provided strong results on French colonial memory. Actually, as an unexpected results, comparing a city in Morocco, that is obviously a French post-colonial one (1912-1956), it reminded that London and a part of UK could be considered like an old French colony (Anglo-Normand) after 1066.

In term of colonial memory, this is revealed in some interviewees and readings on history of international relations, especially French-English relations (Tombs, That sweet Ennemies, 2006). The rivalries also emerge from French expression like « Perfide Albion » and daily jokes in English tabloids or Rugby games between national teams.

Finally, this sociological comparison looks important to avoid the continuation of the theft of history (Goody, 2006) as it shows complexity in international relations on a long term period. In this case, it shows for example that international relation are more ambivalent than the recent post-colonial memory.