In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when 'Greater France' encompassed the world's second largest overseas empire, public authorities and private lobby groups used monuments to great men, memorials to soldiers killed in battle, museums and simple street names to imprint colonialism on the landscape. Such reminders were intended to consecrate France's colonial vocation and to stimulate support for imperialism. In the post-colonial era, these traces of empire remain as 'sites of memory'. This study examines sites in Paris and the provinces, from old statues of colonial worthies to a new memorial to soldiers killed in Algeria. It argues that monuments and museums, initially intended to mark the country with colonialist fervour, now testify to ambivalent French views of colonialism and show painful, sometimes reluctant and often ambiguous attempts to come to terms with the colonial past. Vestiges of imperialism are thus linked to collective memory and to contemporary issues of national identity.

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