Open Access (free)
The Algerian war and the ‘emancipation’ of Muslim women, 1954–62
Author: Neil Macmaster

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.

Robert Mackay

. conclusion.p65 263 16/09/02, 09:28 264 EXPLANATIONS Notes 1 P. Summerfield, Reconstructing Women’s Wartime Lives (Manchester University Press, 1998), p. 96. 2 In a comparison of resource mobilization in Britain, Germany, the USA and the USSR, M. Harrison concluded that Britain had 45.3 per cent of its working population in war-related work, alongside the USA’s 35.4 per cent and Germany’s 37.6 per cent and the USSR’s 54 per cent. See M. Harrison, ‘Resource Mobilization for World War II: the USA, UK. USSR, and Germany’, The Economic History Review, vol. 41, no. 2, 1988

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Hungary, in the USSR, in Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic. Papers Presented at the Hungarian-Soviet Medical Conference September 24–30, 1960 , ed. J. Weissfeiler (Budapest: Publishing House of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1961). 32 F. Prezmycki, ‘Poland’, in Minculescu, A Ragályos

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four Allied occupation zones under Control Council Law No. 10, which allowed each occupying authority to carry out trials of persons held in its custody. Individual states that held war crimes trials in Europe and in Asia included the US,9 the UK,10 Australia, Nationalist China, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, and the USSR.11 Since the 1940s, war crimes trials have been spasmodic at the national level but in the 1980s and 1990s there was a resurgence of prosecutions in Australia,12 Canada,13 and a number of European states.14 The passage of more than half a

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. 13 The Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978 emerged as a major milestone of the twentieth century in the field of public health, and it identified primary health care as the key to the attainment of the goal of ‘Health for All’. See WHO, ‘Declaration of Alma-Ata. International Conference on Primary Health Care, Alma- Ata, USSR, 6–12 September 1978’, www

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