Les tirailleurs sénégalais

Murphy, David; Achille, Etienne and Forsdick, Charles and Moudileno, Lydie, eds. (2020) Les tirailleurs sénégalais. In: Postcolonial Realms of Memory. Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, pp. 290-296. ISBN 9781789620665

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This article explores the history of the tirailleurs sénégalais, a corps of colonial infantrymen founded in 1857. The tirailleurs were initially deployed to aid the French in the ‘pacification’ of their West African Empire but they made their mark on metropolitan France when they served in their tens of thousands in the First World War, distinguishing themselves in major battles, including the famous victory at Verdun. In the aftermath of the war, the image of a cartoonish, wide-eyed, smiling tirailleur sénégalais on packets of the popular Banania powdered chocolate drink, still used today, arguably became the most important site of French colonial memory.