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Cultural Insecurities and the Desire for Separation : Political Articulations of the Memory of the Algerian War in France

Abstract : French colonization and the consequent War of Independence in Algeria have marked contemporary French society deeply in numerous ways. For decades, the history and memories of these events have been described as ‘padlocked’ by the state. Since the 2000s, academics have observed an increase in the political use of memory. While the literature has often employed psychoanalytical concepts to interpret this resurgence of the repressed, I argue that these readings are in fact designed to be present incursions into the past, serving to legitimate contemporary political projects. This is because new political actors and projects have emerged defending certain visions of the past in order to bolster present ambitions. In recent years, France has also experienced a rise of both far-right nationalist movements and Islamism. These radical formations continue to instrumentalize the history and memories of colonization and the war in Algeria to legitimate their discourses. In a fast-changing world, radical groups promote the rehabilitation of a reassuring past in which racial hierarchies and endogamy are associated with prestige and stability. I contend that while radical elements develop discourses bearing on the past, they thrive on the cultural insecurities of today’s youth and thereby contribute to the reification of identities. Thus, while trying to come to terms with the past, memory policies might actually contribute to its resurgence, as they tend to focus on discourses rather than social frustrations.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 11:54:07 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 3:46:00 AM

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Paul Morin. Cultural Insecurities and the Desire for Separation : Political Articulations of the Memory of the Algerian War in France. Modern Languages Open, 2020, 1, p29. ⟨10.3828/mlo.v0i0.325⟩. ⟨hal-03561527⟩

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