darryl leroux on the spectacle of champlain in quebec-400


Darryl Leroux, ‘The Spectacle of Champlain: Commemorating Québec’, borderlands e-journal 9, 1 (2010)

This essay examines the process of foundation through which Samuel de Champlain’s public image as the founder of Québec has been instituted both historically and during Québec City’s 400th anniversary commemorations in 2008. Through analyzing the official commemorative event, Rencontres, I demonstrate how Champlain’s memory is deeply informed by spectacularized forms of politics. In particular, I argue that the Québec 400 places Champlain as the founder of a culturally diverse Québec by underlining the peaceful encounter between French colonizers and indigenous peoples. By relying on a strategy of familiarity that builds on the politics of spectacle and a semiotics of space, this discursive move solidifies the normative Québécois subject’s ability to legitimately manage national space and define its own boundaries. I end by arguing that commemoration stands out as an important technique of the nationbuilding project in Québec.

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