Intellectuals and Identity Politics During the Decolonization of Algeria
AUTHOR: Le Sueur, James D.
PUBLISHER: University of Pennsylvania Press
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Uncivil War is a provocative study of the intellectuals who confronted the loss of France's most prized overseas possession, colonial Algeria. Tracing the intellectual history of one of the most violent wars of European decolonization, James D. Le Sueur illustrates how such key figures as Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Germaine Tillion, Jacques Soustelle, Raymond Aron, Claude Levi-Strauss, Albert Memmi, Frantz Fanon, Mouloud Feraoun, Jean Amrouche, and Pierre Bourdieu agonized over the "Algerian question."
As Le Sueur argues, these and other individuals forged new notions of the nation and nationalism, giving rise to a politics of identity that continues to influence debate around the world. Indeed, the French-Algerian War occupies a seminal place in colonial and contemporary history.
How did these varied intellectuals--many of whom had been influential in either shaping or critiquing the ideology of colonial enterprise--reconstruct French national identity during decolonization? How was Algerian national identity also reconceptualized, in both intellectual and political circles, French and Algerian, on both right and left? How was the colonial notion of French universalism debated and, by many, invalidated? What has the politically charged concept of "the Other" to do with Algeria's decolonization? Le Sueur turns to a wide array of public archives, previously unstudied private collections, interviews, and published works to examine the dynamism of these inquiries. He investigates Franco-Muslim relations from reconciliation to rupture, a transition resulting from the rise of anticolonialism, political radicalism, military extremism, and Algerian nationalism, as well as the looming threat of civil war in France. As Le Sueur reveals, it was incumbent upon the intellectuals of the day to respond to these crises in the public arena. Whether to celebrate decolonization or decry it as a turning point in French and North African history, intellectuals engaged fully in identity debates and, in so doing, attended to a variety of political, social, moral, and even their own professional concerns.
An interdisciplinary work of the first order, Uncivil War combines anthropology, history, critical theory, and postcolonial studies in an intimate look at a pivotal and highly contested moment in modern history.
PUBLICATION DATE: 4/23/2001
CATEGORY: Biography & Autobiography, Political Science, Social Science