By Badri Murali
Algerians acknowledge March 18,1962 as the day when the Évian Accords were signed, giving Algeria its independence from France after an eight-year war between them. Fifty-four years later at the Mattamy Athletic Centre’s alumni lounge, the country and its colonial war monuments were the subject of Ryerson’s Middle East and North Africa Studies Centre (MENA) official launch event on Thursday.
The talk was titled, The Remains of Settler Colonialism and the War of Monuments Between Algeria and France. Faculty members and students listened to Susan Slyomovics, an award winning professor of anthropology and near eastern languages and cultures at the University of California Los Angeles, talk about the nuances of the movement of war monuments in colonial and post colonial Algeria.
MENA is run by the Faculty of Arts and officially launched this year to begin building a better understanding of social and political context of the region. It is also part of the faculty’s plan to open one new centre per year as part of its Arts in Action plan, according to Jean Paul Boudreau, dean of the faculty of arts.
“MENA is the first of what will be more centres. These centres will be home to inquiry, scholarship, mobilization and community involvement,” Boudreau said.
Interim president Mohamed Lachemi was also at the launch and he said that MENA aligns with the university’s values.
“This is well positioned to meeting our goal of fostering collaboration,” said Lachemi. “We take pride in the diversity of our campus because it challenges the status quo and allows us all to create change.”