Beginning in 1960, the French military carried out seventeen nuclear bomb detonations at bases constructed for this purpose in what is now the Algerian Sahara. This French imperial “radiance” has left an enduring radiological and epistemological legacy whose effects are not yet known. Grounded by close attention to transmedial works by Elisabeth Leuvrey, Bruno Hadjih, and Ammar Bouras, this essay investigates the critical potential of aesthetic representation for apprehending the slow violence of nuclear imperialism that targets desert lives for destruction.
Radiant Matter: Technologies of Light and the Long Shadow of French Nuclear Imperialism in the Algerian Sahara
JILL JARVIS is Assistant Professor in the Department of French at Yale University, where she is on the Councils of African Studies and of Middle East Studies; she is also a founding member of the interdisciplinary Desert Futures Collective. Her first book, Decolonizing Memory: Algeria & the Politics of Testimony, was published by Duke University Press in 2021. She is at work on a second book, Signs in the Desert: Aesthetic Cartographies of the Sahara. Other writing appears in New Literary History, PMLA, The Journal of North African Studies, Yale French Studies, Expressions maghrébines, and elsewhere.
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Jill Jarvis; Radiant Matter: Technologies of Light and the Long Shadow of French Nuclear Imperialism in the Algerian Sahara. Representations 1 November 2022; 160 (1): 54–89. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2022.160.3.54
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