The Memory of Resistance: French Opposition to the Algerian War (1954-1962)

The Memory of Resistance: French Opposition to the Algerian War (1954-1962)

The Memory of Resistance: French Opposition to the Algerian War (1954-1962)

The Memory of Resistance: French Opposition to the Algerian War (1954-1962)

Synopsis

What makes people act against their own national identity?How real are the concepts of nationalism and patriotism?In what ways does the media control our perception of history in the making?This ground-breaking work addresses these important questions through an examination of the Algerian war of 1954-62 and the significant French resistance to their own leaders during the bitter conflict. Through the use of extensive interviews, it provides powerful insights into the clash of values that accompanied the war.In exploring the events and experiences that led a small minority of French people to reject colonialism in the wake of the Algerian conflict, Memories of Resistance focuses on the importance of political allegiances and ideologies, and the motivations for resisting them. The complex issues of identity and shared memory are examined to provide an indispensable analysis of loyalty and self-identity in the wider political context of the world. The book also debates the changing ways in which the media influences perceptions of, and attitudes towards, world events. Third World liberation ideas, personal experiences of French colonialism, memory and the significance of anti-Nazi resistance and political allegiances are all discussed in this wide-ranging and illuminating study.Memories of Resistance represents a major contribution to the theory and practice of oral history, which is fast becoming one of the most popular and dynamic areas of historical research and will be essential reading for anyone studying French colonial history.

Excerpt

During the early hours of All Saints' Day, 1 November 1954, a series of armed attacks and acts of sabotage took place across Algeria. In the remote mountainous region of the Aurès in the east of Algeria the police garrisons in Batna, Arris and Biskra were attacked; in Algiers there were minor explosions in the gasworks and the major petroleum depot; and in Kabylia telephone lines were cut and barracks and gendarmeries raided. In pamphlets scattered across the country the newly formed National Liberation Front (FLN) called for an end to colonialism and the restoration of national independence. In practical terms this was defined as the establishment of a sovereign, democratic and socialist Algerian state within the framework of Islamic principles. The initial rebellion achieved little in terms of the procurement of arms and within the Algerian population as a whole the reaction was muted. Likewise the French press played down the events, largely talking about them as the work of bandits and criminals. But if few understood November 1954 at the time, in the ensuing years, as the conflict broadened and deepened, it assumed a retrospective significance as the beginning of the Algerian war.

The roots of the conflict have to be traced back to 1830 when Charles X, in an attempt to divert attention away from his widespread domestic unpopularity, invaded Algeria, nominally an independent state under the loose suzerainty of the Ottomans. The strength of resistance, led by Abd-el-Kader, led to a protracted war of conquest which only ended in 1847. Then, one year later, in what was to be a fateful step, the Second Republic annexed Algeria not as a colony but as an integral part of France, transforming its vast territories into three departments. Thereafter Algeria was subjected to a steady process of settlement as the total number of migrants rose from 37,374 in 1841 to 200,000 by 1870. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, this figure rose still further as settlers arrived not only from France, but also from Spain, Malta and Italy. In general these settlers were poor whites whose standard of living was considerably lower than that of . . .

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