School of the South. The Colonial Roots of French Theory

School of the South. The Colonial Roots of French Theory

335 pages


Genre: Philosophy, History, Humanities, Nonfiction
The birth of French Theory in the streets of Algiers

In his history of ideas in eight portraits, Onur Erdur opens up a new geography of French thought that characterised the second half of the 20th century: the theories of intellectuals such as Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard and Hélène Cixous were significantly shaped in North Africa or in the confrontation with the French colonies. Erdur's search for traces leads him to Algiers, where the young soldier Pierre Bourdieu did his military service in the middle of the Algerian war; to the coastal village of Sidi Bou Saïd north of Tunis, where Michel Foucault developed an attitude of philosophical hedonism between sunbathing, walks on the beach and ritualised body culture; or to Casablanca, where Roland Barthes fantasises about becoming a novelist in a kind of enlightenment – and to Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous or Jacques Rancière, who reflect philosophically on their Algerian origins.

 Onur Erdur's knowledgeable perspective bathes French-influenced postmodernism in the light of the North African sun. Half a century after the publication of the major works of post-structuralism, School of the South looks beneath the pavement of the French academy – with the beach of Tunis shining below.


"How can the human experience be brought so close to the spiritual-theoretical that one can be seen to glide over into the other? How is theory created? Like no other movement of the 20th century, French theory in particular developed a style of thought that was against identity and for difference, against the centre and for the periphery, against the hegemonic and for the minoritarian."

German title: Schule des Südens - Die kolonialen Wurzeln der französischen Theorie
ISBN: 978-3-7518-2020-2
Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Publication date: 2024
Print run: 2



Sample translation

English sample available

Onur Erdur, born in Diyarbakir in 1984, is a historian and cultural scientist. He researches and teaches at Humboldt University in Berlin on issues relating to the global history of ideas.