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Illegible Allegations

Navigating the Meanings of Rape in Colonial Algeria

Sarah Ghabrial

Abstract

Laws that shield men from punishment if they marry their victims are so ubiquitous that their genesis is impossible to identify. Rather than attempting to trace the colonial or pre-colonial “origins” of so-called marry-your-rapist laws in Algeria, this article examines particular moments within this thick history. It posits that Algerian colonial courts were sites of confrontation, misrecognition, and occasional confluence between local remedies for unlawful sex and modern legal conceptions of rape inextricable from medicalized methods of detection. Algerian litigants approached French courts in rape cases demanding forms of redress based in vernacular ontologies of equitable restitution and social cohesion. In turn, colonial authorities inferred equivalences between indigenous normative codes, Islamic textual prescriptions, and the French Code Pénal that reshaped the legal and social meaning of rape.

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Muslim Notables, French Colonial Officials, and the Washers of the Dead

Women and Gender Politics in Colonial Algeria

Augustin Jomier

Abstract

For many decades, scholars of gender and women's history in the Middle East and North Africa have challenged prevailing visions of an unchanged patriarchy, showing how patriarchy was transformed in relation to colonialism, and how some women struggled against it. To the contrary, this article aims to challenge our understanding of women's agency, taking Mzab as a case study. It explores the ways in which women of this Berber speaking region, inhabited by Ibadi Muslims and conquered by the French in 1882, contributed to the colonial reinforcement of male domination. Reading together works of ethnography, colonial administrative files, legal disputes, and Arabic-language newspapers, this article shows that, together with the colonial legal framework, other informal legal discourses and institutions shaped women's condition. Down the road, forms of patriarchy and notions of gender shifted.

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Amy Kallander

Abstract

This article examines love as a facet of nation building in constructions of modern womanhood and national identity in the 1950s and 1960s. In Tunisia and France, romantic love was evoked to define an urban, middle-class modernity in which the gender norms implicit in companionate marriage signaled a break with the past. These ideals were represented in fiction and women's magazines and elaborated in the novel genre of the advice column. Yet this celebration was interrupted by concern about “mixed marriage” and the rise of anti-immigrant discrimination targeting North Africans in France. Referring to race or religion, debates about interracial marriage in Tunisia and the sexual stereotyping of North African men in France reveal the continuity of colonialism's racial legacies upon postcolonial states. The idealization of marital choice as a testament to individual and national modernity was destabilized by transnational intimacies revealing the limits of the nation-state's liberatory promise to women.

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Etty Terem

Abstract

This introduction to the special issue highlights dominant approaches to the study of women's and gender history in colonial and postcolonial Maghrib. Moreover, it delineates the analytical agenda that frames our inquiry, and reviews the essays in this collection.

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Sébastien Roux and Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud

En avril 2013, au paroxysme des tensions qui entourent l'adoption de la loi Taubira, Frigide Barjot, cheffe de file de la Manif’ pour tous, menace François Hollande de « sang » si la loi pour le mariage homosexuel est adoptée par l'assemblée. Christine Boutin, égérie des catholiques traditionnalistes, parle de « guerre civile » dans des tweets vengeurs. En quelques mois, des centaines de milliers de personnes descendent dans les rues pour manifester et contre-manifester. Moins de quinze ans après l'adoption du Pacs, on invoque à nouveau la République intemporelle et les principes révolutionnaires. On parle, la gorge serrée, de Marianne qu'on trahit. Derrière chaque contrat ou chaque gamète, c'est l'ordre social qui se joue, la République qu'on menace, le symbolique qui tangue… Au début des années 2010, devant les caméras éberluées du monde entier, la France montre à nouveau la place singulière qu'occupent les questions familiales dans le débat public.

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Cécité partielle

Procédure d'adoption et colorblindness institutionnelle en France

Solène Brun

Abstract

While France is largely considered a “colorblind” society, which hinders any public use of racial categories, this article explores the case of international procedure, arguing that it constitutes an exception to institutional colorblindness in the French context. Racial categories are not only explicitly used on a daily basis by adoption professionals, but their use is also officially encouraged, yet in an ambiguous way. In this regard, adoption procedures operate as a moment of color consciousness for many adoptive parents. By focusing on this particular case study, the article aims more generally to unpack the stakes of the taboo surrounding race in France.

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In Their Best Interests

Diplomacy, Ethics, and Competition in the French World of Adoption

Sébastien Roux

Abstract

The international circulation of children requires a multiplicity of interventions. Adoptive flows must respect the ethical standards defined by the Hague Convention (1993) and be realized in the context of a drastic contraction of the migration of children for adoptive purposes. For a dozen years, the French government has been following a partially contradictory double imperative: the moral respect of universal principles enacted by international treaties, and the political maintenance of France among the adoptive “great nations” that are able to favor its nationals. Based on a multi-site field study, this contribution aims to shed light on the architecture, discourse, and actions of these “adoptive public agents.” Drawing on interviews and observations conducted in France and abroad, this article describes how bureaucrats act in practice to create French adoptive families, at the blurred and troubled intersection between the promotion of universal children's rights and the favoring of French national interests.

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L'adoption internationale

Un facteur d'évolution de la morphologie familiale (1945–1985)

Yves Denéchère

Abstract

In France, international adoption developed in the 1960s and became an important social phenomenon in the 1980s. During this period, successive regulations led to differences in the ways the interest of the French child and the foreign child were treated. This situation also challenged the established norms of the conjugal family. Adopting a foreign child made it possible to “make a family” differently, and gave French society new forms of the family to consider that both shaped and illustrated the evolution of family morphology. Adoptive families also participated in debates on the concepts of family, kinship, and parenthood, and they helped to make disabled children and so-called “children of color” more accepted.

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The Olive Grove of Rome

Romanization and the French Colonial Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Tunisia

Jessica Biddlestone

Abstract

In 1892, the French resident general in Tunisia launched the first state-sponsored colonization effort in the Tunisian protectorate. Based on Paul Bourde's study of ancient Roman agriculture, the colonization plan explicitly sought to remake Roman prosperity in central Tunisia by fostering the cultivation of olives. Examining Bourde's study of the ancient past and his work as director of agriculture in Tunisia, this article explores the connections between the study of the Roman Empire and the development of colonialism in North Africa. In tracing this history, this article highlights how the study and use of Roman ruins in French Tunisia inspired an appreciation for the role that technology and material development played in supporting the spread of Roman civilization and culture.

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The Other Children of the French Republic

The Government of Kafala by the Institutions of Adoption

Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud

Abstract

For several years now, orphaned children have been arriving from Algeria and Morocco for legal collection by families residing on French territory. While most Muslim countries prohibit full adoption, they do allow forms of delegation of parental authority (kafala) that enable abandoned children living in orphanages to be cared for by families. Due to the prohibitive status of adoption in Morocco and Algeria and the fact that France is required to adhere to the regulations of those countries, these children arrive in France without having either the possibility of being naturalized or adopted. This article interrogates the particular reception reserved for these children by French institutions by analyzing the reasons for the kafala system's relative obscurity within the French field of adoption, the measures deployed by departmental councils to assess candidates for kafala, and, finally, the alternative strategies such families use to adapt to French rule.