Under the chairmanship of the historian Pascal Blanchard, around twenty researchers and personalities from different backgrounds (1) have put together the “Portraits of France” collection recently submitted to the government. Within this scientific council, the coordinator of the Toulouse association Tactikollectif, Salah Amokrane, contributed to the initiative and provided its content. “Portraits de France” brings together the names and biographical files of 318 women and men with different backgrounds and exemplary but forgotten lives.
What impulse does this collection to which you have contributed respond?
The President of the Republic raised this question about the need to work on other presentations of national history and our coexistence in the media “Brut” on December 4th. I think this reflection responds to an important social expectation, especially on the part of the youth. We can clearly see today how much she insists on being part of a mixed, multicultural society and rejects anything that involves discrimination. On this basis, the initiative of the historian Pascal Blanchard and the city minister Nadia Hai proposes a concrete instrument based on existing models, in particular on the subject of combatant memory.
Who is this tool for?
Pascal Blanchard wanted to offer a tool to elected officials, so it was not about writing a brochure, but about making sure that everyone can pick up this collection that recognizes the contribution of all this diversity. It also corresponds to the idea that all French people, regardless of their origin, can recognize themselves in history, and the point is not at all to rewrite history, but to enrich it. He also remembers that some of which we do not for a second assume that they cannot be of foreign origin, such as Yves Montand, Louis de Funès, Jacques Brel …
How did you work specifically?
We all suggested a list of names that included elements to facilitate the work of historian Yvan Gastaut, who coordinated the tremendous work of drafting the files. We left out a hundred personalities because of a difficult debate about whether to include living people on the list, which will happen later. For my part, I suggested the names of the Kabyle singer Slimane Azem (1918-1983) and the French-Mauritanian actor and filmmaker Med Hondo (1935-2019), best known for his dubbing of the actor’s voice. American Eddy Murphy.
Wasn’t it difficult to avoid the risk of deconstruction?
We had different views, particularly on whether or not to rename street names, but in the end that wasn’t our goal. Our goal was to take a “positive” approach and not have a value judgment. The idea was to offer a variety of backgrounds, military heroes, resistance fighters like Mamadou Addi Bâ (1911-1943), artists, athletes, intellectuals …
In short, this collection builds on the work you have been doing for a long time …
The Tactikollectif had indeed worked for the name of the Slimane Azem garden in Moissac, and in the same way, even if it is a somewhat ordinary hero, with the inhabitants of the Izards in Toulouse, we suggested a place or to name a place named after him Mr. Chenaene, a former personality of the district who is involved in the associative world and who died last year. The process has been well received and will be the subject of a review by the local council.
(1) Bancel, Rachidbenzin, Samia Berkaoui-Chabani, David Diop, Isabelle Giordano, Sébastien Gokalp, Nadia Hathroubi-Safsaf, Laëtitia Hélouet, Naïma Huber-Yahi, Rachel Khan, Pascal Ory, André Rakoto, Aïssata Catherine Wihtol de Wenden Zobda and Yvan Gastaut (coordinator of the authors of the biographical files)
At the instigation of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the Scientific Council, chaired by Pascal Blanchard, compiled a list of 318 known or unknown women and men with different backgrounds. Artists, athletes, resistance fighters, soldiers, authors, philosophers, scientists and milliners benefit from writing a biographical sheet and from references that are suitable to shed light on their paths and fates. A map of their places of residence in France even provides for the presence of 32 of them in the Occitania region, including Nina Companeez, Georges Charpak, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro or Alfred Nakache, but also Cheng-Tcheng, Diallo Bakary, Abdelkader Zaaf … To discover On https://www.cohesion-territoires.gouv.fr/portraits-de-france