This article offers a socio-historical approach to analyzing the genesis of the notion of “Algerian literature” and its structural relationship to “French literature”—unstable notions that have been subject to fierce debate. I show how “Algerian literature” has been nationalized and ethnicized during the twentieth century. These transformations are linked to Algerian writers’ literary and political struggles with one another. Their approaches to affirming or denying the very existence of “Algerian literature” during the colonial era, or its ethnic character after Algerian independence, depended on their political convictions, but also on their recognition within the French-Algerian literary space. A structural analysis of the kind offered here allows us to see new historical continuities and ruptures between French colonial literature and the literature of post-independence Algeria. It reveals too that the figure of Albert Camus has remained in the heart of the debates even to this day.
Tristan Leperlier est docteur en sociologie et sciences du littéraire de l’EHESS (Paris), avec une thèse intitulée « Une guerre des langues ? Le champ algérien pendant la « décennie noire » (1988–2003). Crise politique et consécrations transnationales », soutenue en décembre 2015.