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“Algeria for the Algerians”

Public Education and Settler Identity in the Early Third Republic

Kyle Francis

This article uses an 1881 revolt by settler students at the normal school of Algiers to explore issues of settler identity formation, anticlericalism, and racism. It argues that in the early Third Republic, settlers began to see the public school as a key site for creating a distinctly “Algerian” identity, one that excluded both Algerian Muslims and even new arrivals from the metropole. In this effort, settlers sought to implement radical versions of French republicanism and anticlericalism that were in reality highly restrictive, as they combined both metropolitan disdain for Catholicism and colonial scorn towards Islam. The investigations precipitated by the revolt reveal a colony and metropole whose fundamental concepts took shape in circuit between France and Algeria. The version of republicanism that emerged in Algeria served as an important precursor for the exclusive republicanism and its prohibitions on the public expression of faith in the ascendency in France today.

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Administering Vaccination in Interwar Algeria

Medical Auxiliaries, Smallpox, and the Colonial State in the Communes mixtes

Hannah-Louise Clark

Compulsory smallpox vaccination was introduced to Algeria by decree on 27 May 1907. After World War I, the combination of public health crises, racialized fears of contagion, and the objective of mise en valeur prompted the colonial state to make Muslim villagers in the communes mixtes a more systematic target of smallpox vaccination. This was achieved in large part thanks to the efforts of Muslim medical auxiliaries. This article reconstructs the kinds of training, labor, and clerical skills embodied in these agents’ administration of vaccination. It also examines the accommodation and contestation of their presence by officials, politicians, and villagers. The author argues that the administrative bureaucracy generated by vaccination may have preceded and enabled the expansion of state registration in rural areas during the interwar period, but ultimately was more effective at disciplining the medical auxiliary than it was at controlling villagers or the smallpox virus.

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The Algerian Café-Hotel

Hub of the Nationalist Underground, Paris 1926–1962

Neil MacMaster

Algerian migrant workers in Paris inhabited café-lodging houses that became centers of clandestine political organization and terrorist networks before and during the War of Independence (1954–1962). The managers, with organizational skills and a certain authority over their clients, also provided the leadership for the local nationalist cells. In a situation in which the cell members also constituted the hotel clientele, in which the social life of the café was at one with that of the political meeting, it was difficult for the police to penetrate and gather intelligence on the organization. There followed a war of attrition between police and nationalists for the control of the café-hotels, in which the latter developed sophisticated commercial arrangements as a façade for collecting revenue. The Algerian nationalists, like other anti-state organizations, from the French Resistance to the Mafia, developed clandestine structures within the social networks of the café and “legitimate” commercial operations.

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Camus et la “littérature algérienne”

Une notion stratégique dans l’espace littéraire francophone

Tristan Leperlier

*Full article is in French

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.

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Selective Empathy

Workers, Colonial Subjects, and the Affective Politics of French Romantic Socialism

Naomi J. Andrews

During the 1830s and 1840s, romantic socialists in France wrote about three subjugated groups in the French empire: metropolitan workers, slaves in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean colonies, and Algerian civilians. Although these three groups ostensibly shared similar conditions of deprivation and violent treatment at the hands of the French state, socialists depicted them in importantly different terms, with the effect of humanizing workers and slaves, while dehumanizing the Algerians suffering French conquest and colonization. This article explores these presentations and examines the way they worked together to champion the socialist priority, the emergent working classes of the July Monarchy, and to indirectly endorse the settler colonial project in Algeria.

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The Color of French Wine

Southern Wine Producers Respond to Competition from the Algerian Wine Industry in the Early Third Republic

Elizabeth Heath

In the early Third Republic, southern wine producers in the Aude confronted a new competitor: Algerian wine. This article explores Audois efforts to curtail Algerian wine production in the aftermath of phylloxera, the wine crisis, and the 1907 strikes. Focusing on the actions of the Confédération générale des vignerons, this article shows how local winegrowers transformed the Algerian wine industry into a symbol of industrial, profit-driven agriculture and global integration. Cast as a civilizational struggle that pitted “French” traditions and cultural practices against the unsavory and immoral habits of colonial competitors, the fight against Algerian wine provided southern wine growers with a way to distinguish and add value to their own wines. The result was a new myth of southern viticulture that, despite hybridized vines and industrial production methods, recast the Midi as the guardian of true “French” agricultural production and a rural culture based on age-old traditions and a moral economy.

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Au contact

Postiers non-citoyens dans l’Algérie colonisée (vers 1900–1939)

Annick Lacroix

The Postal and Telecommunication administration offers a complex picture of colonial society in Algeria. Men and women, citizens and natives, were employed as mailmen, telephone operators, middle managers or postmasters. This article focuses on the specific position of colonized Algerians employed inside this administration. Addressing the period from the early twentieth century to the Second World War, it highlights how legal barriers and illiteracy narrowed access to public sector jobs and inhibited career advancement. However, professional records found in the Algerian archive centers also reveal how much the sociological backgrounds of these employees varied. The native mailman rarely got a permanent position, his wage was not high, but he could achieve some stability. He was a public figure in urban districts, as well as in remote villages. The article concludes with a detailed analysis of interactions at work and within the colonial context.

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David Drake

When considering Sartre’s and Camus’ positions on the Algerian War of Independence, it is useful to begin by briefly locating both men in relation to colonialism in general and Algeria in particular. The first point, an obvious one, but one which needs to be made, is that while Camus, the child of Belcourt, had first-hand knowledge of life in working-class Algiers, and as a journalist of the misery of Kabylia in the late 1930s, Sartre, the Parisian intellectual par excellence, had almost no direct knowledge of the country. I say almost no direct knowledge because he and de Beauvoir did pass through southern Algeria en route to French West Africa in 1950 but apparently paid scant attention to the political situation in that country.

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The making of terrorists

Anthropology and the alternative truth of America's 'War on Terror' in the Sahara

Jeremy Keenan

This article, based on almost eight years of continuous anthropological research amongst the Tuareg people of the Sahara and Sahel, suggests that the launch by the US and its main regional ally, Algeria, in 2002–2003 of a ‘new’, ‘second’, or ‘Saharan’ Front in the ‘War on Terror’ was largely a fabrication on the part of the US and Algerian military intelligence services. The ‘official truth’, embodied in an estimated 3,000 articles and reports of one sort or another, is largely disinformation. The article summarizes how and why this deception was effected and examines briefly its implications for both the region and its people as well as the future of US international relations and especially its global pursuance of an increasingly suspect ‘War on Terror’.

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Cute Girls, Tough Boys

Performing Gender in Algerian Manga

Alexandra Gueydan-Turek

This article explores the way in which masculinity and femininity are constructed in Algerian manga, an emerging, understudied sub-genre within the field of Algerian graphic art. Through the exploration of youth-oriented publications of shōjo and shōnen manga, I will demonstrate how these new local works offer a privileged form of expression for and platform to address disaffected Algerian youths. The primary focus of this investigation will be the differences (or lack thereof) between ideals of gender performances as expressed in Algerian manga and ideals of gender identity in society at large. This article will demonstrate that, while some differences manifest a desire for change on the part of both artists and readers, they certainly do not constitute radical revisions of the popular Algerian notions of masculinity and femininity. Ultimately, this study will demonstrate the limits of manga as an imported genre within an Arab-Islamic context, oscillating between the promulgation of alternative social ideals and the reinforcement of social norms.