In May 1958, and four years into the Algerian War of Independence, a revolt again appropriated the revolutionary and republican symbolism of the French Revolution by seizing power through a Committee of Public Safety. This book explores why a repressive colonial system that had for over a century maintained the material and intellectual backwardness of Algerian women now turned to an extensive programme of 'emancipation'. After a brief background sketch of the situation of Algerian women during the post-war decade, it discusses the various factors contributed to the emergence of the first significant women's organisations in the main urban centres. It was only after the outbreak of the rebellion in 1954 and the arrival of many hundreds of wives of army officers that the model of female interventionism became dramatically activated. The French military intervention in Algeria during 1954-1962 derived its force from the Orientalist current in European colonialism and also seemed to foreshadow the revival of global Islamophobia after 1979 and the eventual moves to 'liberate' Muslim societies by US-led neo-imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the women of Bordj Okhriss, as throughout Algeria, the French army represented a dangerous and powerful force associated with mass destruction, brutality and rape. The central contradiction facing the mobile socio-medical teams teams was how to gain the trust of Algerian women and to bring them social progress and emancipation when they themselves were part of an army that had destroyed their villages and driven them into refugee camps.
nuclear war and radioactivity to overpopulation and environmental destruction. Many cultural
connections were made between these threats, not least the growing concern about ‘the
populationexplosion’. For example, Georg Borgström illustrated the demographic
trend with a diagram in the form of a mushroom cloud, and Paul Ehrlich’s international
bestseller was entitled The Population Bomb (1968).
In the dawning environmental debate of the 1960s, radioactivity and its link
to cancer played a similar role. This invisible threat
cultural script of human rights became predominant, and it was found at the international conference in Vienna in 1968, organised by the International Women's Federation and entitled The Hungry Millions, a clear sign that family planning was again being seen through the lens of the ‘population bomb’. Contemporary fears of populationexplosion and food shortages permeated all dimensions of the proceedings of this conference. Female medical doctors presented family planning as ‘a basic human right’ and underlined the need for medical responsibility in ‘participating in a
The paradoxes of sustainability and Michel Houellebecq’s The
Possibility of an Island
1 (1): 91–110.
Ehrlich, Paul R. 1968. The Population Bomb. New York: Ballantine.
Ehrlich, Paul R. and Anne Ehrlich 1990. The PopulationExplosion. New York:
Simon and Schuster.
Emerich, Monica 2011. The Gospel of Sustainability: Media, Market, and LOHAS.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Foucault, Michel 1984. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ The Foucault Reader. Ed. Paul
Rabinow. New York: Pantheon, 32–50.
Houellebecq, Michel 2000 . Atomized. Trans. Frank Wynne. New York:
Houellebecq, Michel 2006 . The Possibility of an Island. Trans. Gavin Bowd
city some 160 km south-west of
Stockholm, with a population of about 140,000) and adopting the association’s first
political programme. That happened at the annual meeting in early January when more than a
hundred members gathered to socialize, go on excursions, make placards, and attain shared
‘doctrines and values’. The new programme announced that we humans were
‘obliged to preserve our limited natural environment for the sake of future
generations’ and that the populationexplosion had ‘developed into a
independence by chaos and economic dislocation as a million settlers, who held
the key technical, administrative and professional functions, departed.
After 1962 the new government, confronted with economic and social
disintegration, mass rural–urban flight, high unemployment and a
quite staggering populationexplosion, attempted to resolve the crisis
of rural under-development through an agrarian revolution, while oil
revenues were invested in a Soviet style industrialisation programme.2
One classic modernisation theory maintains that the global, long-term
progress in the
the two women discussed what the West could learn from India. 16 The article about the ongoing populationexplosion was far
more censorious. Soller stressed that India’s population was growing by one million
people a month, which she said was an untenable situation. All measures to improve
people’s living conditions ‘will be eaten up by the rising
excess population’, unless ‘the measures are specifically focused on family
planning’. So far, though, all campaigns had been ineffective. Despite the fact that
over a million
confronting Algeria was
not, he argued, the consequence of an exploitative colonial system and
France had since 1830 brought enormous benefits to a primitive society
wracked by tribal wars, disease and famine. Algeria did face major
problems of poverty and unemployment but these were not caused by
colonialism but rather reflected a classic problem of ‘under-development’ rooted in such inherent problems as infertile soils, lack of rainfall,
a populationexplosion and other ‘natural’ or technical aspects. Since,
claimed Soustelle, France invested more in Algeria than it