This collection brings together six papers of the some seventy that were presented at the international symposium held at Université Laval in October, 1987 entitled “Mémoires, Histoires, Identités”. Organized jointly by the History Department of Université Laval, the Ecole des Hautes études en sciences sociales de Paris and the Laboratoire 363 “Tiers-Monde-Afrique” CNRS/Université Paris VII, the symposium aimed to stimulate reflection and research on the links between the construction of identities and the production of history as a discourse on the past, and thus on the links maintained by two modes of production of History-the academic and the popular. Achieving this objective required a broadening of the empirical field to avoid unduly singularizing African experiences.
The papers here concentrate on the process of the production of history by historical actors or by cultural intermediaries who, educated or not, are not of the university milieu which imposes the western conception of historical discourse. The relationships between academic and popular discourse and between the norms of the dominant culture and the practices of dominated cultures are at the center of the analyses.
Isaiah Berlin recently summarized the past century as follows:
The other, without doubt, consists in the great ideological storms that have altered the lives of virtually all mankind: the Russian Revolution and its aftermath – totalitarian tyrannies of both right and left and the explosions of nationalism, racism, and, in places, of religious bigotry, which, interestingly enough, not one among the most perceptive social thinkers of the nineteenth century had ever predicted.