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.
Nafissa Sid Cara and the Politics of Emancipation during the Algerian War
During the Algerian War, Nafissa Sid Cara came to public prominence in two roles. As a secretary of state, Sid Cara oversaw the reform of Muslim marriage and divorce laws pursued by Charles de Gaulle’s administration as part of its integration campaign to unite France and Algeria. As president of the Mouvement de solidarité féminine, she sought to “emancipate” Algerian women so they could enjoy the rights France offered. Though the politics of the Algerian War circumscribed both roles, Sid Cara’s work with Algerian women did not remain limited by colonial rule. As Algeria approached independence, Sid Cara rearticulated the language of women’s rights as an apolitical and universal good, regardless of the future of the French colonial state, though she—and the language of women’s rights— remained bound to the former metropole.
Harki Collective Memories, 2003–2010
Laura Jeanne Sims
Since 2005, scholars and politicians have employed a framework of “memory wars” to interpret conflicts over the colonial past in France. The case of the Harkis, Algerians who fought with the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence, and their descendents, challenges basic features of this paradigm. Disputes among children of Harkis about how to interpret the French colonial project in Algeria and their fathers’ motivations for supporting the French reveal the limitations of considering the Harkis and other participants in the Algerian War as unified memory camps, a constituent element of the memory war model. Conceiving of memory debates in terms of a “war” also obscures the ways in which narrating the past can constitute an act of reconciliation and signal a desire for inclusion, as it has for Harki sons and daughters.
Frantz Fanon, Jean-Paul Sartre, and the Violence of the Algerian War
This article considers two famous works published in France during the Algerian War and forever after interpretively linked: Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth and Jean-Paul Sartre's Preface to Fanon's book. It argues that yoking together the two texts has distorted key features of each, in particular as they relate to the multiform problem of violence. To overcome a misreading of Fanon's position by Sartre, the analysis presented here uses the under-examined clinical case studies in the final chapter of Wretched to emphasize Fanon's acknowledgment of violence as a source of trauma, not only a means by which trauma is transcended. It then attempts to explain Sartre's reinterpretation of Fanon's message in light of ongoing postwar debates within the French intellectual Left about the revolutionary potential of violence in metropolitan France.
The Algerian War, French Textbooks and How Violence Is Remembered
French history textbooks occupy a pivotal position in the colonial fracture. They impart difficult knowledge about the Algerian War of Independence, knowledge that impacts the relationships between the communities of memory in France today. Textbook analysis has focused on their verbal content and, recently, in the work of Jo McCormack, on corresponding teaching practices. This article highlights graphic design as one layer of visual knowledge production and primarily contributes to the methodology of textbook analysis with an exemplary multimodal analysis. It reveals a hidden narrative about the postcolonial relationship that is not expressed in words.
A Political Experiment with IBM Machines during the Algerian War
The Paris police faced considerable problems in trying to identify migrant workers who, during the Algerian War, provided a support base for the Front de libération nationale. In order to overcome the failings of manual card-index systems (fichiers) the Préfecture of Police experimented in 1959-62 with IBM punch-card machines. The origin of these powerful identification techniques can be traced back to the inter-war statistical services headed by René Carmille. Although such methods were banned after the Liberation because of their repressive potential, they were discretely revived to track Algerians. Although the experiment proved successful, the proliferation of numerous decentralized fichiers continued to make the process of identifying wanted Algerians slow and cumbersome and this enabled FLN clandestine networks to survive intact to the end of the Algerian War. However, while rapidly superceded by true computers, the punch-card experiment was a precursor of contemporary, high-speed "Panoptican" systems and the computer driven" "révolution identitaire".
Patrick Young, David Looseley, Elayne Oliphant and Kolja Lindner
Rachel Chrastil, The Siege of Strasbourg (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014). Review by Patrick Young, University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Barnett Singer, The Americanization of France: Searching for Happiness after the Algerian War (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). Review by David Looseley, University of Leeds
Kimberly A. Arkin, Rhinestones, Religion, and the Republic: Fashioning Jewishness in France (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014). Review by Elayne Oliphant, New York University
Stéphanie Hennette Vauchez and Vincent Valentin, L’Affaire Baby Loup ou la nouvelle laïcité (Issy-les-Moulineaux: LGDJ/lextenso éditions, 2014). Review by Kolja Lindner, University of Warwick
Matthew Screech, Susan Slyomovics, Armelle Blin-Rolland and Ana Merino
Tintin: Hergé’s Masterpiece, Somerset House, London, 12 November 2015 to 31 January 2016
Jennifer Howell, The Algerian War in French-Language Comics (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015). 222 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4985-1606-8 ($90.00)
Benoît Mitaine, David Roche and Isabelle Schmitt-Pitiot, eds., Bande dessinée et adaptation (littérature, cinéma, tv) (Clermont-Ferrand: Presses Universitaires Blaise-Pascal, 2015). 374 pp. ISBN: 978-2-84516-682-0 (€18.00)
Mel Gibson, Remembered Reading: Memory, Comics and Post-War Construction of British Girlhood (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2015). 224 pp. ISBN: 9789462700307 (€55.00)
With roots in the transformation of France during and after the Algerian War, the opposition by the farmers of Larzac and their largely urban allies throughout France to the expansion of a military camp into their lands is an emblematic event in the broad 1968 stretching a decade on either side of that year. It was particularly significant at Larzac, where a community of resistance remains today. Drawing on progressive Catholic thought and a new representation of the paysan, the conflict resonated in a France negotiating the terrain of a post-colonial era, a new relationship between the rural and the urban, and the feminist expectations of many supporters.
Simone de Beauvoir, Djamila Boupacha, and the Algerian War
This article situates Simone de Beauvoir's involvement in the case of Djamila Boupacha, an FLN militant who was tortured by the French Army in 1960, in the context of the repeated revelations of torture in course of the Algerian War. Drawing on Beauvoir's writings on ethics and other contemporary denunciations of torture, the essay illuminates how Beauvoir worked to overcome wide-spread public “indifference.” By focusing public attention on the Army's sexually degrading treatment of Boupacha, Beauvoir figured torture as a source of feminine and feminizing national shame.