Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 March 2022
The Introduction situates the book’s themes in three different debates. First, it situates the question of Senegal’s decolonization in a debate about non-national futures as they were imagined by Negritude and Pan-African thinkers at the time of decolonization. Although these non-national futures have now become unthinkable, this book demonstrates that they are remembered as futures past in Senegal’s colonial heritage sites. Second, it situates the interpretation of Senegal’s cultural heritage in a debate about the legacy of Léopold Sédar Senghor’s Negritude. Senegal’s politics of heritagization are indebted to the Negritude philosophy of Senegal’s first president, whose politics of heritage were aimed at the reclamation of African dignity and respect, promising liberation through recuperation. Hence, this book situates the reclamation of African heritage in a temporality of return and frames cultural heritage as a technique of repair. Third, it situates the reclamation of African heritage in debates about world heritage, arguing that Senghor’s archiving project and support for UNESCO’s World Heritage List constituted parallel heritage projects pointing towards the decolonization of world heritage. The book posits that decolonization as envisioned by UNESCO and Senghor is a project to repair the traumas of modernity.