Radiant Matter: Technologies of Light & the Long Shadow of French Nuclear Imperialism in the African Sahara

Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 4:30 pm  

Radiant Matter

Developing the argument of her recent book, Decolonizing Memory: Algeria and the Politics of Testimony (Duke, 2021), Jill Jarvis will present a paper that investigates the critical possibilities of aesthetic representation for apprehending and addressing the slow violence of French nuclear imperialism that targets desert ecosystems and epistemologies for destruction. Beginning in 1960, near the end of Algeria’s long war to end 132 years of French colonial occupation (1830-1962), the French military carried out seventeen nuclear bomb detonations at secret bases constructed for this purpose in what is now the Algerian Sahara. This French imperial ‘radiance’ has left an enduring radiological and epistemological legacy whose effects have not been fully measured or studied, let alone redressed. Taking off from a premise that maps and archives are political instruments that have helped to render seventeen nuclear bomb detonations on the African continent at once justifiable and forgettable, this study is grounded by close analysis of transmedial artworks by Bruno Hadjih, Elisabeth Leuvrey, and Ammar Bouras.


Organized and Sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of French and Italian