This conference will mark a major shift in the historiography of the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62). Accounts of this war have largely remained confined within, and constrained by, the boundaries of the French and Algerian nation-states and the conflicting narratives of each. Recent work by Anglophone (especially American) scholars has broadened the field by offering international histories of the war, but such work has moved even further away from engaging with the realities of the conflict as it actually unfolded “on the ground” within Algeria and within the Algerian emigrant community in France. A fuller understanding of the war requires a marriage of both global and local scales of analysis, paying attention simultaneously to the global connections and significance of the Algerian revolution and France’s Cold War counter-insurgency, on the one hand, and to the complex, often very divisive, local experience of the war for Algerian men, women, and children, on the other. Inseparable from such rewriting is critical attention to the construction and voicing of individual, familial, and local memories and memorialisations (and the concomitant forgetting, or silences) of the war, and its key role in social memory in Algeria and France since 1962.
[ALN troops on the Tunisian border (M. Kouaci); front page of Jeune Afrique, 16-22 July 1962 (MEC library, Oxford); woman and child near a regroupement centre, probably ca. 1959 (National Archives, Algiers)]