Rethinking France's "Memory Wars": Harki and Pied-Noir Collective Memories in Fifth Republic France Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Sims, Laura
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation is a cultural history of the memory narratives and practices of two postcolonial communities in France. The Harkis, Algerians who fought with the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence, and the Pieds-Noirs, settlers of European origin in Algeria, were forced to migrate to France when Algeria gained its independence in 1962. Analyzing the various memory carriers, including "cyber" carriers, that Harkis, Pieds-Noirs, and their descendants have used to transmit understandings of the colonial past reveals the evolving concerns of members of these communities and the changing ways in which they have imagined themselves, particularly in relation to the rest of French society. Harki and Pied-Noir case studies offer insight into the politics of collective memory in Fifth Republic France. As groups with different racial and cultural backgrounds, they have radically dissimilar levels of power, resources, and visibility. Pieds-Noirs have constructed the only museum currently dedicated to the colonial past in France, the Centre de Documentation des Français d'Algérie, while children of Harkis have relied more heavily on the opportunities for social networking and the quick, public transmission of information afforded by the Internet. A comparative approach also highlights the different roles that gender and generation have played in shaping Harki and Pied-Noir collective memories. Finally, as products of the French colonial project, these communities and their collective memories provide an opportunity to explore France's complicated rapport with its imperial past. I challenge the notion that conflicting memories of this period should be interpreted in the framework of "memory wars," as it obscures the productive work of memory. Harki and Pied-Noir narratives and practices have almost always been aimed at fostering inclusion, carving out spaces for reconciliation, and providing a basis for belonging in France.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Brundage, W. Fitzhugh
  • Smith, Jay
  • Reid, Donald
  • Kramer, Lloyd
  • Sherman, Daniel
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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