Focused on colonial and postcolonial Algerians’ social practices and experiences
in Algeria and France, this special issue calls for a renewal of Algerian
history. Outlining past historical work and new research directions, the introduction
argues that to understand colonial Algeria better, historians need to
push beyond a political history that assumes a clear contrast between settlers
and colonized. While recognizing the colonial divide between settlers and colonized
people, we ought to attend to other social hierarchies. These include
men and women’s concrete experiences, for instance at work, at home, and in
migration, intersections of race, gender, and class, contrasts between rural and
urban areas, or the multiple role of religious identities and legal statuses. Reconstructing
those social realities will require new archives, of labor and localities,
for example, and new methods, including quantitative and oral history.
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