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Baya Hocine's Papers

A Source for the History of Algerian Prisons during the War of Independence (1954–1962)

Sylvie Thénault

Abstract

In 1958, a search of the Barberousse Prison in Algiers led to the confiscation of the journal, notes, and correspondence of Baya Hocine, a 17-year-old female detainee who had been sentenced to death for an attack. Written in the intimate style of a personal diary, Hocine's papers are a valuable source for the historiography of prisons during the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962). The purpose of this article is to reconstruct the trajectory from prison to the French Archives, where they appear in typed form, as well as to shed light on the circumstances under which they were written. While they may be insufficient to reconstitute the actual conditions of life in the prison because they communicate private thoughts, they highlight the radical specificity of Barberousse in these wartime years as a place where people who had been sentenced to death were detained and executed and where death was omnipresent.

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Investigating the Investigators

French Colonial Attempts to Supervise Its Policing System during the 1930s*

Ruth Ginio

Abstract

Three cases of re-opened murder investigations in French West Africa are at the heart of this article. My aim is to examine these cases as a lens into everyday colonial policing that was not directly linked to major anti-colonial protests. All three inquiries into low-ranking colonial officers and the way they conducted their investigations took place during the 1930s, in Mauritania, Senegal, and Dahomey. While their circumstances were different, the cases reflect the flawed and unprofessional character of colonial investigations. They also demonstrate that murder investigations—as well as criticism of them—were powered by two crucial French colonial notions: the maintenance of public order and the ideology of the civilizing mission.

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« Nous ne voulons pas de Blancs dans le pays »

l'insurrection des populations de la Haute-Sangha et la pacification de l'espace rebelle (1928–1931)

Patrick Dramé

Cet article se propose d'étudier à l'aune du concept de « commandement » et des notions de « pacification » et de résistance, l'insurrection des populations de la Haute-Sangha et, plus particulièrement, des Bayas du territoire colonial de l'Oubangui-Chari entre 1928 et 1931. La révolte est imputable aux nombreuses contraintes induites par l'encadrement administratif et la « mise en valeur » économique coloniale de l'Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF). La dissidence est alors centrée autour d'un messianisme incarné par Karinou dont l'objectif ultime est le recouvrement de l'ordre précolonial. D'où la mobilisation d'une variété de modes de résistance vis-à-vis du colonisateur. Or, la détermination de l'État colonial à rétablir l'ordre l'amène à user de la violence armée et de la répression judiciaire afin de venir à bout de l'insurrection.

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Policing the French Empire

Colonial Law Enforcement and the Search for Racial-Territorial Hegemony

Samuel Kalman

Commenting on the colonial setting in its twilight during the Algerian War of Independence, Frantz Fanon famously observed: “Le travail du colon est de rendre impossible jusqu'aux rêves de liberté du colonisé. Le travail du colonisé est d'imaginer toutes les combinaisons éventuelles pour anéantir le colon (the task of the colonizer is to make impossible even the dreams of liberty of the colonized. The task of the colonized is to conceive of every possible strategy to wipe out the colonizer).”

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“Purely Artistic”

Police Power and Popular Culture in Colonial Algerian Theater

Danielle Beaujon

Abstract

Following World War II, French police surveillance in Algeria increasingly focused on the threat of Algerian nationalism and policing theater proved no exception. The police assiduously investigated the contents of plays and the background of performers, seeking to determine whether a performance could be considered “purely artistic.” In cracking down on theater, the police attempted to produce “pro-French” art that could influence Algerian loyalties, a cultural civilizing mission carried out by the unlikely figure of the beat cop. Ultimately, their mission failed. Live performances presented an opportunity for spontaneity and improvisation that revealed the weakness of colonial policing. In this article, I argue that in trying to separate art from politics, the police created an impossibly capacious idea of the political, giving officers justification for inserting themselves into intimate moments of daily life. The personal, the interpersonal, and the artistic became a realm of police intervention.

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The Return of N'Guyen Van Binh

Exile and Injustice in the French Empire, 1866–1876

Geoff Read

Abstract

This article explores the case of N'Guyen Van Binh, a South Vietnamese political prisoner exiled for his alleged role in “Poukhombo's Rebellion” in Cambodia in 1866. Although Van Binh's original sentence of exile was reduced to one year in prison he was nonetheless deported and disappeared into the maw of the colonial systems of indentured servitude and forced labor; he likely did not survive the experience. He was thus the victim of injustice and his case reveals the at best haphazard workings of the French colonial bureaucracy during the period of transition from the Second Empire to the Third Republic. While the documentary record is entirely from the perspective of the colonizers, reading between the lines we can also learn something about Van Binh himself including his fierce will to resist his colonial oppressors.

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Cross-Generational Abuse

Priests, Parishioners, and the Catholic Church in New Spain

Zeb Tortorici

Abstract

This article analyzes the influence of confessional manuals on Catholic priests who solicited sexual favors from parishioners during confession throughout colonial New Spain. It proposes that we think about centuries of sexual encounters between priests and parishioners through the concept of cross-generational abuse, which describes intersecting forms of priestly exploitation based on chronological age differentials, allegorical power relations based on the rhetoric of spiritual kinship, and priests’ own abilities to profess redemption years after conviction and thereby regain positions of authority over parishioners. The plurality of these forms of abuse move beyond the usual associations of cross-generational sex solely with the question of age. It opens up the category of cross-generational sex and enlarges its potential to be a topic for historical reflection.

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Nicholas L. Syrett

Abstract

The introduction situates the historiography on queer intergenerational sex in the realm of scholarship on queer history, the history of childhood, and the literature on the significance of chronological age. It lays out three broad schemas that have organized queer intergenerational sex—looking at it as a phallic economy where boys submitted to older men in ways that were akin to women; as a function of pederastic or pedophilic desires; and as abuse—and also explores the overlap and permutations among these categories. It then introduces the six articles in this forum, elucidating their central arguments and the contributions that they make to this dynamic field.

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The Problem of Modern Pederasty in Queer History

A Case Study of Norman Douglas

Rachel Hope Cleves

Abstract

Intergenerational sex between children or youth and adults was historically common, but it is understudied within the historiography of sexuality. There are three reasons that historians of sexuality should pay greater attention to intergenerational sex. First, it was common; second, discourse around intergenerational sex has been a critical site for the production of power; and third, studying intergenerational sex illuminates how sexuality is historically constructed. However, studying intergenerational sex also raises thorny methodological problems around definitions of childhood and consent, the treatment of children's agency, and how to contextualize a practice that was once considered ordinary but is now taboo. Using examples from my research on the writer and notorious pederast Norman Douglas, I address each of these methodological concerns and suggest productive approaches.

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Amanda H. Littauer

Abstract

Drawing on letters and writings by teenage girls and oral history interviews, this article aims to open a scholarly conversation about the existence and significance of intergenerational sexual relationships between minor girls and adult women in the years leading up to and encompassing the lesbian feminist movement of the 1970s. Lesbian history and culture say very little about sexual connections between youth and adults, sweeping them under the rug in gender-inflected ways that differ from the suppression of speech in gay male history and culture about intergenerational sex between boys and men. Nonetheless, my research suggests that, despite lesbian feminists’ caution and even negativity toward teen girls, erotic and sexual relationships with adult women provided girls access to support, pleasure, mentorship, and community.