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.

Open Access (free)
An Excerpt from Bill V. Mullen’s New Biography, James Baldwin: Living in Fire, and an Interview with the Author
Bill V. Mullen

This excerpt from James Baldwin: Living in Fire details a key juncture in Baldwin’s life, 1957–59, when he was transformed by a visit to the South to write about the civil rights movement while grappling with the meaning of the Algerian Revolution. The excerpt shows Baldwin understanding black and Arab liberation struggles as simultaneous and parallel moments in the rise of Third World, anti-colonial and anti-racist U.S. politics. It also shows Baldwin’s emotional and psychological vulnerability to repressive state violence experienced by black and Arab citizens in the U.S., France, and Algiers.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Neil Macmaster

emancipated Muslim woman. As a symbol of modernity and Franco-Algerian integration Zohra also had to be eliminated by the die hard reactionaries, and among the many hundreds of executions carried out by the Guelma militias she, the most independent and Francophile, was the only woman.3 Thirteen years later in May 1958, and four years into the Algerian War of Independence, the revolt led by generals Salan and Massu again appropriated the revolutionary and republican symbolism of the French Revolution by seizing power through a Committee of Public Safety. But, in a reversal

in Burning the veil
Neil Macmaster

resistant to French secularism and were often excluded from the rewards of government employment.5 One of the tragic consequences of the Algerian war of decolonisation, which also shared the features of a civil war, was that the numerically small, educated elite, which was potentially so valuable to the future independent society, was split down the middle. The political decisions of young women tended to reflect their location in families that stood on one side or another of this divide. The évoluées who had received an education within the French system to secondary or

in Burning the veil
Neil Macmaster

and intelligence logic of measures that it wished to dress in the clothing of liberal and democratic reform. However, an examination of this early stage is of interest, since the timing, and how and why the various initiatives were first undertaken, is informative as to the underlying concerns and objectives of the colonial authorities in moving towards such a strategy. This chapter, which covers the first half of the Algerian War from 1 November 1954 until the coup of ‘13 May’ 1958, falls into two parts. During a first phase from 1954 until mid-1956, which was

in Burning the veil
Neil Macmaster

9 The FLN and the role of women during the war The universally held image of women during the Algerian War is that, made famous by Frantz Fanon and Pontecorvo’s classic film The Battle of Algiers, of Muslim women as heroic resistance fighters. However, this enduring symbol of ‘Third World’ women confronting the might of colonial armies reflects more the propaganda success of the FLN in manipulating the representation of Algerian women than any real or enduring transformation of their position or rights. For the majority of FLN leaders the ‘woman question’ did

in Burning the veil
Shérazade and other women in the work of Leïla Sebbar
Margaret A. Majumdar

same time, Sebbar’s œuvre has also been preoccupied with the link with the past. In some respects, her role could be compared with the traditional role of Maghrebian women as custodians of memory through the oral storytelling tradition. Her efforts to transmit knowledge of the Algerian War to the younger generation, particularly regarding the October  killings of Algerians in Paris in La Seine était rouge, could be seen in this light.2 Sometimes her characters become active participants in retelling the past themselves. However, as for Sebbar herself, it is often

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
Open Access (free)
The failure of history
Neil Macmaster

located inside the ‘west’. But the closest parallel to the Algerian War was to come with the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq when the coalition forces attempted, through military conquest, to induce ‘regime change’ and to export a western model of ‘democracy’ and of the good society. The tone of this ‘liberation’ was established first in its most evident ‘Orientalist’ form during the invasion of Afghanistan when President Bush and the American right discovered a newfound mission to free Afghan women from the oppression of the ‘medieval’ Taliban and the sinister

in Burning the veil
David Lloyd’s work
Laura Chrisman

a compelling argument for considering the impact of the Algerian War of Independence on French political and philosophical thought. However, his powerful critique of ethnocentrism is undermined by his general tendency to read anti-colonial movements as primarily engaging the logic of Western philosophy. Thus it seems … that a key object and achievement of the Algerian War of Independence was the overthrow of the Hegelian dialectic! … One is tempted to wonder whether we have merely taken a detour to return to the position of the Other as resource for rethinking the

in Postcolonial contraventions
Neil Macmaster

war violence, how in small-scale, face-to-face social settings the tensions and conflicts of peacetime (disputes over land, livestock, marriage alliances, insults and honour) that were normally mediated and M1822 - MACMASTER TEXT.indd 230 21/7/09 12:16:24 Military ‘pacification’ and the women of Bordj Okhriss 231 settled, now became the basis of denunciation that unleashed deadly force, and pitted neighbour against neighbour.99 At the outbreak of the Algerian War on 1 November 1954, the major nationalist movement was the MNA led by Messali Hadj. It took the FLN

in Burning the veil