Claiming Memory

Visions of the Past and Minority Struggles in Two Former Slave-Trade Ports
By Renaud Hourcade

Drawing on an ethnographic study, this article deals with the emergence and structuration of local memory mobilizations in Nantes and Bordeaux, two former slave-trade ports. The shared experience of racial discrimination appears as a strong incentive for involvement in such mobilizations. This observation leads to a central question : Why and how is the race question translated into a struggle concerned with public memory ? The role of “memory entrepreneurs” appears central in this matter. Two of them are presented in detail, and their specific social profile and function are analyzed. Their position at the interface between memory norms, identity production, and recognition claims at the political level makes them key actors in this process.

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