If the Republic and Empire are now difficult to view as mutually exclusive categories in contemporary France, few scholars have sought to address the conventions of knowledge production that have made France's own history of a racialized polity so rarely a subject for the French academic elite. The term “colonial aphasia” is invoked to supplant the notions of “amnesia” or “forgetting,” to focus rather on three features: an occlusion of knowledge, a difficulty generating a vocabulary that associates appropriate words and concepts with appropriate things, and a difficulty comprehending the enduring relevancy of what has already been spoken.

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