Events Calendar

Stephanie V. Love: RCHA Seminar

Tuesday, November 01, 2022, 11:00am - 01:00pm


Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis
2022-2023 Seminar Series:
“Repairing The Past”
Co-directors, Jochen Hellbeck (History) and Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan (History)

November 1, 2022

Stephanie V. Love
(RCHA Postdoctoral Fellow)

"The Poetics of Disrepair: Urban Names between Settler-Colonial and Postcolonial Algeria"


This chapter from my book project, Streets of Grievance: Everyday Poetics and Postcolonial Politics in Urban Algeria, examines the palimpsestic layering of settler-colonial and postcolonial names in Oran—Algeria’s second-largest city. Urban names are sites of both explicit memory work and submerged histories. While names are passed down from generation to generation, they are also labile and mutable, making them a realm of social action with radical possibilities in everyday urban speech and intergenerational struggles over memory and forgetting. Through the stripping, reinventing, erasing, substituting, avoiding, re-categorizing, or emphasizing certain names over others, I narrate a history of settler-colonial and postcolonial urban violence and transformation, centering on the local term débaptisation (“rechristening”), i.e., the removal of one urban name and its replacement by another. Names—or, more importantly, processes of naming—are material traces of the past that continue to exert a force over people who are conscripted to tell certain stories about the past and do particular types of things in their presence. In Oran, naming the city’s current state of devastating disrepair—its abandonment by the state—has become a way of engaging with the past and imagining other futures and is, therefore, a potent site to examine the stakes of repairing the past after 132 years of French settler colonialism and 60 years of postcolonial authoritarianism. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022: 11 am--1:00 pm (hybrid)

Contact Jochen Hellbeck at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or the paper, and to register for the Zoom meetings.