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History and memory within the pied-noir and harki communities, 1962–2012
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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.

Abstract only
Claire Eldridge

5 Hardening attitudes During the 1970s and 1980s, pied-noir associations focused their attention on creating a rich, communal store of consensual discourses about the past designed to reflect particular attributes related to the contemporary identity of the community. The key strengths of this ‘meta-memory’ were its malleability, which enabled it to be deployed in a variety of guises, and its resonance among individual rapatriés, binding them together within a fluid but robust collective narrative. Beyond the realm of culture, however, the cohesiveness of the

in From empire to exile
Claire Eldridge

3 Creating an identity The silence of the harkis enabled pied-noir activists to construct their own narratives about that community. In a similar manner, so the continued silence of the French state with respect to the War of Independence during the 1970s and 1980s created space for an increasingly extensive and organised network of rapatrié associations to establish their version of these events. The genealogies of identity and memory that developed alongside this growth of associative life was then inscribed across a variety of spaces from the literary and

in From empire to exile
Postmemory and identity in harki and pied noir narratives
Véronique Machelidon

9 Unearthing the father’s secret: postmemory and identity in harki and pied noir narratives Véronique Machelidon Interviewed by Thierry Leclère in La Guerre des mémoires: La France face à son passé colonial, renowned French historian Benjamin Stora summarized his life’s work as an attempt to ‘dresser des passerelles entre deux mémoires différentes [de la colonisation française] et de trouver des espaces mémoriels communs’ (2011: 37) (bridge two different memories of French colonization and find common memorial spaces). In an earlier article titled ‘Quand une

in Reimagining North African Immigration
Abstract only
Claire Eldridge

enslave them, and finally to make them disappear’, Dillinger was clear that to refuse to engage in order to counter such falsifications would not only be ‘a veritable desertion’ but also ‘suicidal’ for the pieds-noirs.5 In a war, one is obliged to choose a side. This leads groups to view each other as ‘allies’ to be courted or ‘enemies’ to be defeated, creating ‘a campaigning logic that, most often, refuses to take into account the suffering of others’.6 As this chapter will argue, this climate has led pied-noir and harki activists to re-evaluate and sometimes

in From empire to exile
Abstract only
Claire Eldridge

repentance, all of which have experienced a heightened visibility both in France and globally. Exploring the champs de bataille, or ‘battlefields’, on which the ‘memory wars’ are currently being ‘fought’ helps to illuminate the interplay between the domestic and international contexts in which the communities concerned are operating. Binding together these different elements is an overarching preoccupation with the question of transmission as both pied-noir and harki activists consider how best to pass on the past to subsequent generations and thus ensure the longevity of

in From empire to exile
Claire Eldridge

were even denied the right to name their own children as social workers imposed French prénoms on newborns  – the majority of whom were delivered in the camps, rather than in local hospitals – as an outward sign of assimilation.26 Although the forest hamlets offered harkis more freedoms, they also had many features in common with the camps, including the presence of an ex-military or pied-noir ‘boss’ to oversee the lives of the inhabitants and a series of stringent rules to which residents were required to adhere or face immediate expulsion.27 Further underlining the

in From empire to exile
Allison Drew

stark social and spatial divide separated Europeans and Algerians. By the early twentieth century urban Europeans had fused into a Catholic, albeit often secularised, pied-noir (black-foot) community of manual and white-collar workers, artisans and shopkeepers with its own distinctive French dialect incorporating Spanish, Italian, Maltese and Arabic words. Racist contempt for the indigenous Muslim

in We are no longer in France
Claire Eldridge

of his fellow settlers as they bade farewell to their homes. Whether departing by boat or plane, their eyes lingered for as long as possible on ‘what was for us the most beautiful view in the world … right until the moment when, eyes burned by the sun, or full of tears, we had to lower our heads’.1 Such nostalgia-laden evocations of a painful ‘exile’ from the unique and irreplaceable land that was French Algeria are, today, widely regarded as the hallmark of the pied-noir community in France who are known for their vocal mobilisation in the fields of memory and

in From empire to exile
The battle of The Screens
Carl Lavery

, which lasted from 1954 to 1962, traumatised France and produced a collapse in collective memory that has continued until the twenty-first century. 7 Unlike its colonies in Africa and Indochina, and protectorates in Morocco and Tunisia, all of which had been granted independence by 1960, Algeria was administered as a French region. It comprised three separate départements , and was inhabited by a large settler population, les pieds noirs . Similar to the Loyalists in Northern Ireland, les pieds noirs had developed deep economic and emotional ties with the country

in The politics of Jean Genet’s late theatre