After completing my first degree in French at the University of Glasgow, I gained an MSc in Marketing from the University of Strathclyde and worked for a number of years at the headquarters of a FTSE50 company, before returning to academia. I completed my PhD at the University of Glasgow, and came to Stirling in 2007.
My research interests lie in the aspects of postcolonial France which have emerged from France’s history in North Africa, and how these have been represented in literature and film. My work approaches the Mediterranean basin as a single transnational space marked by cultural exchanges and physical, colonial and postcolonial migration, which continues to be shaped by the traces of shared histories, and by individual and collective narratives of memory and identification. Areas of interest include:
- Memory, trauma, and commemoration;
- Pied-noir history, myths, literature and film;
- Ghosts and the haunting traces of the colonial period;
- Contemporary exoticism and orientalism;
- Postcolonial feminism.
I have published widely on the role of memory in French literary and cinematic representations of Algeria. My first monograph, Writing Postcolonial France, interrogates the ongoing process of decolonisation, and proposes that France – which since de Gaulle has frequently regarded itself as having turned the page of empire – has failed to come to terms with the end of its empire and is now haunted by the legacy of its colonial relationship with North Africa, and the ghostly traces which it has left on contemporary society. It examines the form assumed by the ghosts of the past in fiction from a range of genres (travel writing, detective fiction, life writing, historical fiction, women's writing) produced within metropolitan France. By viewing metropolitan France through the prism of its relationship with its former colonies in North Africa, the book maps the complexities of contemporary France as a postcolonial nation.
I currently hold an AHRC early career Leadership Fellowship (£250,000; 2018-2021) for a project entitled 'From colonisers to refugees: narratives and representations of the French settlers of Algeria'. It situates the 1962 repatriation of around a million European settlers, known as pieds-noirs, to France in the wider context of contemporary European and Mediterranean forced migrations, and examines the resulting implications for French society, culture, politics and identity. You can find out about the project at our website:
I am currently supervising three doctoral students: Fraser McQueen (Immigration, race and religion in contemporary France, funded by the AHRC), Dyhia Bia (The politics and aesthetics of post-independence African literature and theatre), and Yana Semerdjieva (The strategic portrayal of refugees in European English-language media). Enquiries from prospective PhD students wanting to work in areas relating to postcolonial France and Algeria are warmly welcomed.
I am Honorary Secretary of the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France, where I have been a member of the Executive Committee since 2010.