This article explores the fierce resistance and controversy that have marked the reception of post-colonial studies in France. In contrast to the anglophone academy, where post-colonialism emerged and was gradually institutionalized throughout the 1980s and 1990s, in France these approaches did not make a mark until much later. The context of social and political crisis over France's post-colonial populations, in which the debate surrounding post-colonial studies emerged, is fundamental to understanding the high stakes and thus the vehemence and polemical nature of their reception. Institutional factors and the particularities of the French intellectual climate, France's strong Republican ideology, and its problematic relationship with its own colonial history, are all explored as reasons for this troubled relationship. The anglocentrism of post-colonial studies is also considered, as are the mutually beneficial outcomes of a dialogue between post-colonial studies and the French debates and context. I outline a specifically ‘French’ post-colonialism that has emerged from these debates, and suggest that whilst positive moves have been made towards a truly inclusive post-colonial studies that would take account of numerous languages, former empires, and former colonies, there remains work to be done in this direction.
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