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Mobilising memory: Great War and the language of politics in colonial Algeria

Book Month 2023

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14 April 2023

11:00 - 12:00 CEST



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The EUI Alumni Association and the Library host a book presentation by History Alumnus and Lecturer in French at University College Cork, Dónal Hassett.

Over the course of the Great War, a quarter of million settlers and subjects from Algeria served in French forces. Thousands more crossed the Mediterranean to work in the war industries of metropolitan France. On the Algerian Home Front, men, women, and children of all ethnic, religious, social, and political backgrounds contributed to the imperial war effort. Mobilising Memory is the first study to explore how the mass mobilisation of Algerian society during the First World War transformed politics in the colony. It asks how actors across the colony's racial, ideological, and class divides sought to legitimise their competing visions for Algeria's future by evoking their wartime service. Without diminishing the coercive power of the colonial state, it stresses the agency of the citizens and subjects of Algeria who sought to leverage their contribution to the war to enhance their positions within colonial society. In doing so, Mobilising Memory explores the consequences, often unintended, of framing political, social, and economic demands in a language rooted in the experience of the Great War. It argues that the predominance of this shared political language - grounded in notions of loyalty to and sacrifice for France - meant that most actors in interwar Algeria sought not to break with the Empire but rather to renegotiate their place within it. While these efforts rarely proved successful, the volume demonstrates how they radically reshaped the practice of politics in the colony.

Introduction by: Argyri Panezi, Alumna and Canada Research Chair in Digital Information Law and Policy at the University of New Brunswick.

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