Cross-cultural memory in postcolonial contexts: European imperial heroes in twenty-first-century Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


The independence of African colonies turned many imperial figures into unwanted memories of a bygone age. Celebrated by colonial authorities throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the memory of these European heroes seemed condemned to fall into oblivion after the 1960s. Yet, half a century later, their heroic reputations are now enjoying an unexpected new lease of life in sub-Saharan Africa, due to a variety of factors linked to local religious beliefs, global tourism or new approaches in the construction of postcolonial national identities. The rebirth of imperial heroes in Africa reveals a highly significant process of renegotiation of nation-building narratives, moving away from the dominant paradigms of anti- colonialism and perhaps towards a post-racial form of cosmopolitanism. This phenomenon, which has hitherto remained ignored, reframes the terms of the postcolonial relationship between former colonies and ex-metropoles, and exemplifies a form of cultural hybridity which forces us to re-appraise the traditional dichotomies of post-imperial contexts.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMemory and Postcolonial Studies
Subtitle of host publicationSynergies and New Directions
EditorsDirk Göttsche
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2019

Publication series

NameCultural Memories