Martin Thomas
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Repression, reprisals and rhetorics of massacre in Algeria’s war
in Rhetorics of empire
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This chapter examines three of the most notorious mass killings of the Algerian war. It includes the Constantine massacres of August 1955, the lethal ambush of a French army patrol near the Palestro gorge, in May 1956, and the war's single largest incident of mass civilian killing, at Melouza a year later. The first marked the war's decisive reversion to an asymmetric dynamic of targeted Front de Liberation Nationale killing and mass security force reprisals. The second was a more conventional military encounter in which this asymmetry of Algerian versus French losses was reversed. And the last confirmed the conflict's descent into fratricidal killing and unacknowledged Algerian-on-Algerian civil war. In each case, perpetrators and victims differed. Yet the rhetorical outbursts surrounding each instance of massacre evinced remarkable similarities in the ways such violence was supported, condoned or condemned. Each of these events also triggered heightened levels of French military repression.

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Rhetorics of empire

Languages of colonial conflict after 1900


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