The Legacy of the Algerian War Between History, Memory, and Representations

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Venue:FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus, MARC Pavilion

The aim of this conference is to interrogate the Algerian War’s legacy fifty years hence. The Algerian War acts as a metonymy, concentrating colonial conflicts as it appears in the movie by Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers (1966).Through Pontecorvo’s film, the Algerian war will permanently represent metonymically the event of the war, the violence of colonialism and anti-colonial struggles in general. The legacy of the Algerian war could be understood beyond France and Algeria. It is not only the War of Algerian or French people, but it has also become a symbol, maybe a myth, allowing for reflection and discussion on anticolonial struggles. It is still the symbol of resistance to oppression. This is the reason why questioning the legacy of the Algerian War implies addressing the legacy of colonial memory in general. The conference will be a privileged moment to question today’s legacy of what was called in French, “les événements d’Algérie”, but also “la guerre d’Algérie” (Algerian War), or in Arabic, “al thawra” (the revolution), “harb al tahrir” (the war of independence). As the negative reaction to the recent movie by Rachid Bouchareb Hors-la-loi, (Outside the law), 2010, shows, the Algerian War is still controversial. It is still a symbolic divide between France, Algeria and their oppositional memories of the conflict, just as it still represents the opposition between the colonizer and colonized in general. To quote Benjamin Stora, we can write this history only with two voices alluding to what was done by historians, novelists, directors, artists, from both shores of the Mediterranean sea, who try to show the complexity of the clash between memory and History. Important works have already been accomplished around the History of the Algerian Revolution. We will not only address history, but also movies and novels that discuss and rewrite the Algerian War as the turning point for the new postcolonial era. We will consider a time beyond colonialism that could lead to a transnational understanding of History and representations and provide an answer to our questions. We will discuss in terms that articulate imaginaries and real politics, representations and actual discourses, erasing the strong limits between history and fiction. As outlined by Benjamin Stora, there is a resistance to acknowledge that the Algerian War -as other wars in the History of Independent movements– has only a bilateral history, imposing the need to deconstruct a linear understanding of memory and a rigid writing of History as informed by national borders. Maybe the work of fiction could help by displacing borders of Historical discourse as reinforcing nations? Major perspectives that will be considered:

  1. The Global legacy of the Algerian War
  2. The impact of the Algerian War in French thought
  3. How to write a transnational memory of the Algerian War
  4. Fiction and Memory of the War: What can History learn from fiction?

Keynote Speakers

  1. Réda Bensmaïa, Professor of French and Francophone Literature, Brown University.
  2. 8119,en.html, Martin Evans, Professor in Contemporary European History, University of Portsmouth.

Cultural Event : Documentary Screening, Le Puits/El Bi’r, by Film Director, Béatrice Dubell

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