The retired military officers who organized the Rallye Méditerranée-le-Cap, a biennial car race from Algiers to Cape Town, did so to promote Eurafrica. Eurafrica, an idealized geopolitical fusion of the continents, would be a site of European partnership, with the rally literally paving the way. When its wealthy participants first took to the road in 1951, France, Belgium, and Britain administered much of the course. This article argues that the organizers viewed tourism as the best method for upholding European sovereignty in Africa. However, they did not account for new ways of doing empire in the postwar era, most notably the strength of anti-imperial activism and the advent of technologies that did not require direct access to large swathes of land. By the time of the fifth and final rally in 1961, organizers contended with realities they preferred to ignore: newly independent African states and the ongoing Algerian War of Independence.
Megan Brown is Assistant Professor of modern Europe at Swarthmore College. She is currently writing a book entitled The Seventh Member State: France, Algeria, and the European Project, about the French Empire's place in the history of European integration. At Swarthmore, she teaches a range of courses, including one on the imbricated histories of tourism and empire. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org