Histories of Independence in Côte d’Ivoire

An Ethnography of the Past


In Histories of Independence in Côte d’Ivoire: an Ethnography of the Past, Konstanze N’Guessan deals with memory work in Côte d’Ivoire and bridges an ethnographic approach with the insights of newer theoretical approaches in historiography. Adopting a long-term perspective from the late 1950s to the present, she attempts to disentangle the condensation of meanings of the lieu de mémoire “Ivorian independence” and explores how different practices of recalling the past complement and/or contradict each other. Histories of independence in Côte d’Ivoire looks at national-day celebrations, academic historiography, oral tradition and memory politics in order to understand how (political) actors mobilize the past in order to produce pleasant presents and futures.

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Konstanze N’Guessan, Ph.D. (1983), is senior lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Mainz (Germany). Her research interests and publications cover memory politics, the anthropology of nationalism, the (post-)colonial history of Francophone Africa, Pentecostalism, bureaucracy, and parenting.
Glossary of (Ivorian) French Terms and Names

Introduction: Remembering Independence in Côte d’Ivoire
 1 The Past in the Present: Memory, History, Anthropology
 2 Researching and Writing Pasts in the Present: historiography and Commemoration as Social Practices
 3 An Ethnography of the Past or an Anthropology of Memory-making?
 4 Outline of the Book

1 National-Day Celebrations and the Crafting of a Prospective Memory Politics
 1 14 July and 7 August 1960: two Celebrations, Two Mnemonic Communities, One Narrative
 2 The Broadcast to the Nation and the Nation of the Future
 3 The Era of the Fêtes Tournantes: modern Côte d’Ivoire as a Model Nation
 4 Participants’ Voices from the Nation’s Past and Future

2 Political Turmoil and Performances of Multi-partyism: National-Day Celebrations against the Archival Grain
 1 After Houphouёt-Boigny: national-day Celebrations of an Orphaned Nation
 2 The Year 2000 as Mnemonic Watershed
 3 National-day Celebrations as Performances

3 Ivorian Historiography as an Art of Memory
 1 A Short History of Academic Historiography in Côte d’Ivoire
 2 Agency, Blame and Periodization: Africanist and Marxist Historiography
 3 The Memorial de la Côte d’Ivoire
 4 Genealogies Back and Forth, or How Histories Talk to One Another

4 Oral History, Performance and Custodianship of the Past
 1 Henriette Diabaté’s La Marche des Femmes sur Grand-Bassam
 2 The Colloquium on the Occasion of the Fortieth Anniversary of the rda in 1986
 3 The History of ‘It was me’
 4 Alternative Concepts of Historiology and Power: Akan Historians and Sorbonnards

5 Memory Politics in 2010: Coping with the Heritage of Houphouёt-Boigny
 1 The cnocici and the Official Commemorative Programme of the Cinquantenaire
 2 Deconstructing the Good Old Days with Scholarly Rigour: The cnocici Conferences
 3 Houphouëtistes all over the Place?

6 The Refractory Imaginary of the Poster Child and Performances of Nostalgia and Spiritual Liberation
 1 The Fêtes Tournantes and the Stubborn Resilience of Popular Memory
 2 The Photo Exhibition and the Difficulty of Displaying Mirage
 3 The Return of the Time Witness, or: who are the Custodians of the Nation’s Past?
 4 The Ivorian Jubilee and the Re-enactment of the Women’s March to Grand-Bassam

7 The Chosen Nation and the Nation as Kin Group: Tropes of National Imaginaries
 1 The Genealogy of Côte d’Ivoire as Chosen Nation: migration Stories and the Cultural Work of Autochthony
 2 The Nation as Kin Group: young Ivorians as the New Vanguard for True Independence
 3 The Next or the Final Battle: the Post-electoral Crisis of 2010/11

Conclusion: Searching for a Reconciling Ending…

Anyone interested in the (post)-colonial history of Francophone West Africa and particularly Côte d’Ivoire. Scholars and students of memory studies and the anthropology of remembering.
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