From Empire to Exile
History and Memory Within the Pied-noir and Harki Communities, 1962-2012
Manchester University Press 2016
New Books in African StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network January 26, 2018 Roxanne Panchasi
The French-Algerian War that erupted in 1954 ended with the emergence of an independent Algeria in 1962, but it was not until decades later that a broader French public turned its attention with vigor to the violence and pain of that conflict. Indeed, the French state only officially recognized the war as a war in 1999. Claire Eldridge‘s From Empire to Exile: History and Memory Within the Pied-noir and Harki Communities, 1962-2012 (Manchester University Press, 2016) interrogates the war’s legacies by focusing on the French settlers and the native military and civilian auxiliaries who fled Algeria in the thousands as French colonialism there came to an end. Examining pied-noir and harki grassroots collective mobilization and memory activism in France after 1962, From Exile to Empire shows that, while the war may have been repressed and silenced in a variety of ways in French society, the conflict was far from “forgotten” for these communities.
Addressing material concerns including housing, poverty, and forms of indemnity, and attempting to preserve their cultures and histories, community associations forged new identities in France while advocating for the recognition of their suffering and their positive contributions to the nation and its (former) empire. Divided into two parts, the book covers the memory work of these communities from 1962 to 1991, and then from the early 1990s up to the 50th anniversary of the end of the conflict in 2012. Drawing on a wide range of pied-noir and harki sources, From Empire to Exile has much to offer those interested in the history of the war and its aftermaths. It will also make fascinating reading for anyone concerned with popular and community memory in the wake of traumatic and violent pasts more generally.
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. Her current research focuses on the representation of nuclear weapons and testing in France and its empire since 1945. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send an email to: [email protected].
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