Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies <br> Thursday Series <br> Joshua H. Cole, University of Michigan
Abstract: The horrific murders at Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris are only the latest example of the centrality of provocation to contemporary political debate. This paper uses examples from interwar colonial French Algeria to help us think about the history of a dangerous predicament: the fact that at certain moments of political crisis the right of individuals to express themselves appears to conflict with the desire to maintain social peace between diverse populations. In such contexts, what is the role of provocation in shaping public debate? Is there an alternative to the obviously unhappy choice between liberty of expression and social harmony? In what way can the history of French colonialism or the history of revolutions in France and the French empire help us to understand this very contemporary dilemma?
Joshua H. Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. His research and teaching deal primarily with the social and cultural history of France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and his published work includes gender and the history of the population sciences, colonial violence, and the politics of memory in France, Algeria, and Germany.
Free and open to the public.
This lecture is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.