Neil Macmaster
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The origins of the emancipation campaign, November 1954 to May 1958

This chapter, which covers the first half of the Algerian War from 1 November 1954 until the coup of '13 May' 1958, falls into two parts. During a first phase from 1954 to mid-1956, which was dominated by the governorship of Jacques Soustelle, the Algiers government made little attempt to formulate a policy that was directly aimed at Muslim women. The second phase, which lasted from 1956 until 1958, saw the appearance of an intense debate that was focused on Algerian women. The Algiers government of Robert Lacoste responded with a range of initiatives that included a propaganda campaign on emancipation and un-veiling. The psychological warfare officers of the Fifth Bureau were interested in the counter-insurgency and repressive implications of women's emancipation. Jean Servier appears to have been the first person during the war to design a military programme that was directed specifically at peasant women.

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Burning the veil

The Algerian war and the ‘emancipation’ of Muslim women, 1954–62


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