The propaganda offensive and the strategy of contact
in Burning the veil

The French army faced a major problem in its campaign of emancipation, how to reach out to the mass of over four million women, most of whom were illiterate and scattered over the surface of a huge territory in villages or secluded settlements. The task of developing contacts that could reach all Algerian women presented a formidable challenge. This chapter looks at the role of mass media communication which was developed centrally by the government and military to reach women across the entire geographical space of Algeria. It looks at the propaganda use of film which provided a powerful, visual means for reaching an uneducated audience. The chapter examines the content of the radio programmes that were specifically designed for women. The French army had experimented with radio propaganda in 1951 during the war in Vietnam but had abandoned the idea because of the paucity of receivers among the population.

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Burning the veil

The Algerian war and the ‘emancipation’ of Muslim women, 1954–62

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