Date of Award
Open Access Master's Thesis
School of Arts and Humanities
Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member
© 2022 Sierra R Newby-Smith
Colonial Past, France, Immigration, Museum, National Identity
History | Museum Studies
This paper focuses on the intersection of identity, the colonial past, and immigration in France through the lens of the Musée National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration. The museum, which opened in 2007 and is currently redesigning its permanent exhibition, has struggled to come to terms with France’s colonial past, a defining aspect of the museum as a result of its location and theme. This paper argues that the museum functions as a microcosm of France’s difficulty to address its colonial past while still maintaining its current national identity construction. Thus, this paper explores how the Immigration Museum is and has attempted to address the conundrum of two conflicting aspects, the colonial past and the construction of national identity, through colonial memory, the colonial roots of the building itself, and the political rhetoric of state leaders during key moments of the museum’s history. In addition, this paper explores how the museum is moving forward to address its colonial past in the context of contemporary events and movements concerning systemic racism, Islamophobia, and immigration. In doing so, the paper engages with contemporary questions about the construction of identity, systemic racism and xenophobia in France, and the role of state sponsored institutions in recontextualizing national identity paradigms.
Newby-Smith, Sierra Ruby. (2022). The French Conundrum: The Unsettled Relationship between the Colonial Past, Identity Construction, and Immigration in the Musée National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration. CGU Theses & Dissertations, 380. https://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgu_etd/380.