The Rue d'Isly, Algiers, 26 March 1962

The Contested Memorialization of a Massacre

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author: Fiona Barclay1
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  • 1 Senior Lecturer, French Studies, University of Stirling, UK
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Abstract

This article examines the memorial discourses surrounding the massacre that occurred on 26 March 1962 when, in the week following the Franco–FLN ceasefire, French soldiers opened fire on a demonstration of unarmed European settler civilians, killing forty-six and wounding two hundred. Largely unknown among wider French society, references to the massacre have become a staple of the pied-noir activist discourse of victimhood, often advanced as evidence that they had no choice but to leave Algeria in 1962. The article draws on French and Algerian press articles, as well as online, print, and film publications produced by the repatriated European population. It reveals how settlers’ narratives first dehistoricized the massacre and then invested it with a significance that drew on multidirectional memories borrowed from a range of sometimes jarring international contexts. The analysis accounts for why the massacre contributed to the repatriated settler community's sense of identity and relationship to the wider French nation.

Contributor Notes

Fiona Barclay is Senior Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Stirling. Her work examines the postcolonial relationship between Algeria and France, with a particular focus on the European pied-noir settler community. The research for this article was made possible by the award of a UKRI AHRC Leadership Fellowship.