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Wednesday, May 03, 2023

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Warwick Seminar for Interdisciplinary French Studies: Elizabeth Benjamin (Coventry), ‘Lieux oubliés et pas perdus: mapping the monuments of Paris that never were’
Teams - see webpage ('More info') for the link

This paper will present new archival research at the collections and archives of the Musée Carnavalet, targeting documentation of monuments, memorials and museums that never came to be, for example the failed proposal to construct a memorial museum of the French Revolution at the 1889 centenary. The paper will explore the politics of the planning, commissioning and financing of a selection of the city’s monuments from the Revolution to the present, mapping an ephemeral network of lost and fading interactions with French history. The paper will discuss the historical planning of monuments, and the present development of cultural policies and politiques de mémoire. The evolution of the monumental landscape will be analysed to assess whether the development of these landmarks has become less elitist or simply inclusion-washed in new narratives that come with no concrete improvements for concerned communities. The work feeds into my new project ‘Mediating Memory through the Monuments of Paris’, which will address issues in accessibility and representation in monuments and memorials. The project will propose increased and improved cultural policies and practices surrounding the construction and maintenance of urban sites of collective memory.

Elizabeth Benjamin is Lecturer in French at Coventry University, UK. Her research is in the field of French and Francophone memory studies, with particular interest in monuments. Her current work looks at Paris and its problematic dominance over the Francophone memoryscape, through monuments, literature, and politics.