The MIT Global France Seminar aims to bring together MIT faculty, instructors, and graduate students from across disciplines interested in the study of French and francophone cultures around the world. The seminar series is free and open to the public.

Todd Shepard will explore how French discussions over the course of the 1970s about sodomy and rape which in many other ways replicated debates then taking place in the US and elsewhere turned around the figure of the “Arab man.” While scholars at the time (notably feminists and Foucault) remarked that these discussions raised crucial questions about the relationship between “acts” and “identities,” Todd Shepard suggests that they were also sites where questions about empire, racism, and colonial violence (notably the Algerian War) shaped understanding of how politics functioned. Todd Shepard is Associate Professor of History and Co-Director of the Program in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Johns Hopkins University. His first book The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War and the Remaking of France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006) won numerous awards, including The Council of European Studies’ 2008 Book Prize. He is now working on three book projects: Voices of Decolonization (A Brief History with Documents) (forthcoming, Bedford/St. Martin); La France, le sexe et les arabes (1962 à 1979) (forthcoming, Payot); and Affirmative Action and the End of Empires: ‘Integration’ in France(1956-1962) and the Race Question in the Cold War World.

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