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Uncanny city: Revisiting Alexandria's haunted spaces

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This article explores an aspect of France’s relations with North Africa that has hitherto received relatively little attention from cultural commentators working in the broad area of postcolonial Francophone studies, certainly in the United Kingdom, namely, the photographic representation of Alexandria in the 1980s and 1990s. During this period the city was finally emerging from the near oblivion in which it was plunged following the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the subsequent expulsion by the Egyptian government of the cosmopolitan community which had been responsible for its erstwhile success and prosperity since the 1850s. The article takes the photobook Alexandrie revisitée (Hassoun 1998) published as part of the celebrations surrounding L’Année France-Égypte launched by Presidents Jacques Chirac and Hosni Mubarak, as a representative case study of the depiction of the city at the end of the twentieth century. Using theories of nostalgia, the uncanny, and photography, this study demonstrates how the aesthetic form and content of Alexandrie revisitée functions as a historical, cultural, political and memorialist document, as well as a product of the ‘special relationship’ between France and Egypt.
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Keywords: Alexandria; Egypt; memory; nostalgia; photography; uncanny

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies

Publication date: 2011-12-19

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  • The International Journal of Francophone Studies offers a critical preview for a new development in the understanding of 'France outside France', with a thorough insight into the network of disciplinary issues affiliated with this study. The journal complements the thriving area of scholarly interest in the French-speaking regions of the world, bringing a location of linguistic, cultural, historical and social dynamics within a single academic arena.
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