Project Aims

‘Narratives and Representations of the French Settlers of Algeria’ is a two-year AHRC funded project which examines the cultural impact of mass migration across the Mediterranean, focusing primarily on literary and artistic representations of and by French colonial settlers from Algeria who were repatriated to France as exiles in 1962.

The project examines and analyses fictional representations produced about and by the European settler community of Algeria. By bringing together two fields of study – settler colonial studies, and migration studies relating to memory and trauma – it interrogates the reductive categories of colonizer/colonised and victim/perpetrator with which the settler community has historically been associated. Through this approach, it aims to arrive at a more productive understanding of how France’s colonial history in Algeria shapes how the nation relates to its past, and how postcolonial minorities conceptualise themselves and their relationship to the nation.

Research Questions

The project will achieve its academic goals by asking key questions about the narratives and representations of European settlers of Algeria:

How do the fictional representations convey, imagine and represent the settler experience of the past and the present, and how do they contribute to the formation and negotiation of community identity and cultural memory?

How do the prevalent fictional narratives of the settler colonial past interface with other forms of cultural representation and remembrance?

Contemporary Resonance

The project’s focus on questions of colonialism, resettlement, forced migration, and integration has a pertinent contemporary resonance. As various European countries seek to reinforce hostile physical and administrative borders to people seeking refuge from war, poverty, and climate change, the status of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe has been widely debated.

The project aims to enhance public understanding of the issues surrounding experiences of migration and integration by investigating an historical precedent for mass migration across the Mediterranean, and so contextualising the current displacement of peoples towards Europe.

Partnering with local government officials working to resettle Syrian refugees, the project foregrounds the voices of refugees and facilitate the communication of their experiences to members of the general public interested in understanding the migration and integration of refugees arriving in France and the UK.

Full details of the public engagement activities can be found in the menu option.

Image: Paris-Match no. 686, 2 June 1962.