Laïcité (i.e. secularism) has been increasingly and widely represented as a French exception. This study investigates such association by examining the cultural reality in which laïcité is embedded through the use of collective memories. Drawing on critical intercultural communication and aspects of a Foucauldian approach to discourse, this study explores collective memories that are associated with the concept of laïcité and how they contribute to the discursive association of laïcité with France. Qualitative content analysis was used to examine newspaper texts (N = 60) published in the French daily Le Monde between 2011 and 2014. Results reveal the salience of historical memories and indicate ways in which they can be used to normalize meanings, produce instances of disciplinary power, and present reified representations of collective identities and practices.

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Keywords critical intercultural communication, France, laïcité, media representations, memory
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Journal Cultural Dynamics
Sommier, M. (2017). Memories as a discursive strategy. Cultural Dynamics. doi:10.1177/0921374017730165