Contesting Views

Contesting Views: The Visual Economy of France and Algeria

Volume: 27
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Contesting Views
    Book Description:

    Fifty years after Algerian independence, the legacy of France's Algerian past, and the ongoing complexities of the Franco-Algerian relationship, remain a key preoccupation in both countries. A central role in shaping understanding of their shared past and present is played by visual culture. This study investigates how relations between France and Algeria have been represented and contested through visual means since the outbreak of the Algerian War in 1954. It probes the contours of colonial and postcolonial visual culture in both countries, highlighting the important roles played by still and moving images when Franco-Algerian relations are imagined. Analysing a wide range of images made on both sides of the Mediterranean – from colonial picture postcards of French Algeria to contemporary representations of postcolonial Algiers – this new book is the first to trace the circulation of, and connections between, a diverse range of images and media within this field of visual culture. It shows how the visual representation of Franco-Algerian links informs our understanding both of the lived experience of postcoloniality within Europe and the Maghreb, and of wider contemporary geopolitics.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-795-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction: Visualising the Franco-Algerian Relationship
    (pp. 1-10)

    Nineteen March 2012 proved to be a notable date in France for two reasons. First, it was marked by extensive coverage in the French media of the fiftieth anniversary of the ceasefire agreed in the Évian accords between the French government and the Gouvernement Provisionnel de la République Algérienne (GPRA). The ceasefire marked the official suspension of military hostilities in Algeria, and the first stage of the process towards the declaration of an Algerian republic on 5 July 1962. The extent of the coverage, and the way in which it drew together diverse perspectives on the war, including those which...

  6. I Algerian Pasts in the French Public Sphere
    • 1 Wish We Were There: Nostalgic (Re)visions of France’s Algerian Past
      (pp. 13-38)

      As France established itself in Algeria during the nineteenth century, visual culture came to have a central role in shaping perceptions and understandings of the new colony. It helped to transform the country, its landscapes and people into objects of knowledge, spectacle and consumption, playing out once again the fundamental interconnection of visuality and imperialism analysed most notably by Mary Louise Pratt (1992). Deborah Cherry (2003) notes how rapidly Western artists, tourists and photographers began to arrive in Algeria, and the excitement with which they set about depicting what they saw. With the subsequent dissemination and circulation of their images,...

    • 2 Visions of History: Looking Back at the Algerian War
      (pp. 39-64)

      If the 1990s and 2000s were marked by a growth of photo-books and other visual material restaging, celebrating and mourning French Algeria, the period was defined too by persistent debate within France, particularly among historians, over the visual representation of the Algerian War and its relationship to collective memory of the conflict. The issue was first raised by Benjamin Stora in his groundbreaking work of 1991,La Gangrène et l’oubli[Gangrene and Forgetfulness]. Stora (1991: 248) argued that French amnesia in relation to the war could be linked to the lack of visual images in circulation subsequent to it. In...

    • 3 Out of the Shadows: The Visual Career of 17 October 1961
      (pp. 65-90)

      Of all the events of the Algerian War, those which took place in Paris on and around 17 October 1961 are now among the most notorious and controversial. A brief account of the episode runs as follows: on the evening of 17 October, with the war still several months from its conclusion, several tens of thousands of Algerian immigrants were mobilised by the FLN, converging on central Paris from different points in the suburbs. Their aim was to stage a peaceful protest march against a curfew on their movements imposed earlier that month by the Chief of the Paris Police,...

  7. II Mapping Franco-Algerian Borders in Contemporary Visual Culture
    • 4 War Child: Memory, Childhood and Algerian Pasts in Recent French Film
      (pp. 93-120)

      In keeping with the heightened awareness of the Algerian War provoked by key anniversaries during the first decade of the twenty-first century (fortieth anniversary of 17 October 1961 and the ceasefire of March 1962; fiftieth anniversary of the start of the war), the period also saw a distinctive surge in the number of French-produced or co-produced feature-length films that explicitly tackled the subject of the conflict. Alain Tasma’sNuit noire(2005), for example, dramatised the events leading up to 17 October 1961 and the night itself in Paris. Philippe Faucon’sLa Trahison(2006) and Florent Emilio Siri’sL’Ennemi intime(2007)...

    • 5 Bridging the Gap: Representations of the Mediterranean Sea
      (pp. 121-144)

      During French colonial rule in Algeria, the Mediterranean Sea and wider region played an important role in helping suture, metaphorically, themétropole’s southern shores to Algeria’s coastline. French colonial scholars, for example, positioned the Mediterranean region as the historical cradle of human civilisation and a crossroads of cultures linked by a shared Latin Mediterranean heritage. The historical links claimed between Algeria’s Berber population and metropolitan French society here proved pivotal, positioning Berbers as ‘not only the privileged inheritors of Latin civilisation, but also the truehomo mediterraneus’ because they were considered ‘the original inhabitants of North Africa, who had preserved...

    • 6 A Sense of Place: Envisioning Post-Colonial Space in France and Algeria
      (pp. 145-179)

      The previous chapter foregrounded the space of the Mediterranean and its role as a theatre for depicting and investigating the relationship between France and Algeria. We explored how it interferes with and inflects the trajectories of people on both its French and Algerian shores whose lives are defined in some way by moving between the two countries; or, indeed, by the desire or inability to do so. The Mediterranean is both a space to be negotiated and a horizon beyond which lie lands at once real and fantasised. Our aim in this final chapter is to examine how France and...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 180-185)

    In early May 2012, France elected François Hollande, candidate of the Parti socialiste, as its new President. Hollande’s second-round victory followed anentre-deux-toursnotably marked by a move to the right in Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign as he sought to woo those who had voted for the far-right Front National in the first round. Preparing the ground for subsequent legislative elections, the reactions from centre- and far-right politicians following the celebration of Hollande’s victory at the Place de la Bastille on election night were telling. Bemoaning the lack of French tricolors on display, and heavily criticising the number of foreign flags...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 186-206)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-225)
  11. Index
    (pp. 226-236)