Andrea Tang

Storytelling with genre-bending inclinations & international flavor.

GEOPOLITICAL DRAMA RECAP: France, Algeria, & Postcolonialism, Oh My!

Periodically, being the sort of small-fry genre writer who earns her keep by day as an international affairs wonk, even when I'm off the clock, I still watch and/or read up on various political hijinks unfolding across the globe. Disclaimer: this generally has very little to do with the subject of whatever research project I'm juggling at the office -- but it does serve the multi-prong purpose of (1) escapism from the immediate politics of DC, (2) autodidactic language refreshers for the big old linguistic nerd in me (which is also why much of what I read focuses on the Asia-Pacific and/or the Francophonie, since those are regions encompassing passable linguistic competencies of mine), and (3) replicating that same terrible, addictive feeling you get when you watch a really soapy, complicated TV series. In other words, DRAMZ. 

At some point, I started recapping these international news & history binges late at night on Facebook, usually accompanied by a nightcap or two, like my particular nerdy one-girl version of Drunk History, but with a decidedly modern geopolitical bent. While Chatham House rules, NDAs, general professionalism & the like keep my chatter on actual work-work related matters to appropriately hush-hush levels in public (including on social media and blogs), what I read or write or think about outside of work-work is fair game. Sometimes, this is Star Wars. And sometimes, this is language politics in Quebec. I contain multitudes. 

"Ha ha!" I joked at one point, "I should start a tongue-in-cheek blog series based on my tipsy late-night hot takes of Random Geopolitical Dramz, the same way some people recap like, the Marvel films." (Given that I sometimes recap things like Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, I'm clearly already halfway there.)"

"Dude," said one of my friends, "now that you've put it out there, you really actually should. You can't just tease us like that, and then not do it."

Fair point. I also do not see myself becoming a future judicial nominee or presidential candidate or any other kind of major politically-exposed person, so I doubt anyone who unearths such a series will particularly care -- though one must admit, it would probably entertain the poor investigator stuck compiling my file. But I digress! This may in fact turn out to be a hilariously terrible idea, but for the moment, enough people seem to want me to preserve last week's mildly vodka-fueled ramblings about France's latest postcolonial hang-ups that I may as well cross-post them on this blog, as they basically went like so:

Me: Because I'm a masochist, & also don't want to do these short story edits, I'm going to catch up on French politics. It'll be useful language practice, and provide ample reason beyond my own country's politics to break out the vodka, like my own tiny alcoholic resistance against American exceptionalism. See, I can be a rebel too.

Me: Oh hey, the one presidential candidate I'm actually somewhat fond of is giving a lengthy French-language interview on Algerian TV! I wonder what --

Emmanuel Macron: [in French, roughly translated & summarized by yours truly] Yo, ngl, that time we brutally colonized Algeria was super shitty.

French Right-Wingers: HOW DARE.

Emmanuel Macron: OH, JE DARE.

A Bunch of French Think Pieces & TV5Monde Spots: Oh dear, so this is a bit gauche to cop to, but for context, in case no one noticed, this one time, we may have looted & pillaged a rather large chunk of the African continent --

Echorouk TV, Algiers Office: BITCH, WHAT DO YOU MEAN "ONE" TIME.

French Right-Wingers: Imperialism, schmimperialism, what about the light the glory of French civilization has cast upon this dark world?

Emmanuel Macron: True, France established a rather admirable code of human rights in Algeria --

French Right-Wingers: There you go!

Emmanuel Macron: -- we just basically never abided by it, like ever.

French Right-Wingers: HAVE YOU NO LOVE OF PATRIA.

Emmanuel Macron: ... Okay, dude, we really gotta unpack this country's weird postcolonial baggage properly at some point, because shit's getting awkward. But hey, given that engaging with the historical reality underlying the global francophone diaspora appears Too Extra for the current political climate, in the mean time, how about this: science is cool and global warming is bad?

French Right-Wingers: NOUS SOMMES PATRIOTES!!!!!

Emmanuel Macron: Le sigh. 

Me, Several Hours, Too Much TV5Monde, & Several Drinks Later: All right, here's my current wish list: (1) an aggressive reread of Frantz Fanon, as suits the postcolonial lit trash that I am, and (2) the would-be Francophonie summit where Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau become Science Bros, like Bruce and Tony in the 2012 Avengers film.


Next cross-post in this series: nicknames & hot takes from this Tuesday's bilingual Tory leadership debate in Edmonton, Canada!