History and memory within the pied-noir and harki communities, 1962–2012
French rule in Algeria ended in 1962 following almost eight years of intensely violent conflict, producing one of the largest migratory waves of the post-1945 era. Almost a million French settlers - pieds-noirs - and tens of thousands of harkis - native auxiliaries who had fought with the French army - felt compelled to leave their homeland and cross the Mediterranean to France. Tracing the history of these two communities, From Empire to Exile explores the legacies of the Algerian War of Independence in France. It uses the long-standing grassroots collective mobilisation and memory activism undertaken by both groups to challenge the idea that this was a ‘forgotten’ war that only returned to public attention in the 1990s. Revealing the rich and dynamic interactions produced as pieds-noirs, harkis and other groups engaged with each other and with state-sanctioned narratives, this study demonstrates the fundamental ways in which postcolonial minorities have shaped the landscapes of French politics, society and culture since 1962. It also helps place the current ‘memory wars’ deemed to be sweeping France in their wider historical context, proving that the current competition for control over the representation of the past in the public sphere is not a recent development, but the culmination of long-running processes. By reconceptualising the ways in which the Algerian War has been debated, evaluated and commemorated in the five decades since it ended, this book makes an original contribution to important discussions surrounding the contentious issues of memory, migration and empire in contemporary France.