Defeating a Political Minority: The “Messalist Women” in France during the Algerian War and Subsequent Decolonization Process (1947-2000)

Defeating a Political Minority: The “Messalist Women” in France during the Algerian War and Subsequent Decolonization Process (1947-2000)

CERS public lecture by Marc André, Visiting Scholar, UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies. Cosponsored by CNES.

Thursday, May 25, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

The Algerian War of Independence took place in the French metropole as well as in the colony. In the metropole, this struggle for independence was accompanied by a fratricidal war between the “messalists”, proponents of Messali Hadj, founder of the first party for Algerian independence, and the “frontists”, the new generation of separatists who supported the National Liberation Front (FLN). The toll was heavy: 3,889 casualties. The political victory of the FLN, who remains in power today, obscured the story of messalist families. This lecture will focus on the resistance of this political minority, which was finally subdued by the FLN. What was the role of these women in this fratricidal war? How did they accept a defeat when, in some parts of France as Lyon, they had successfully maintained their political positions? By studying a wide variety of sources (military court records, legal findings, and oral interviews) we will be able to better understand the socio-political dynamics of the messalist emigrant community in France, and the roles women played in the confrontation between the two rival parties. Finally, we will see how these women were targeted by the FLN and the police forces, and will explore their lasting memories of this trauma.

Dr. Marc André is an historian, associate researcher at the research institute Larhra (Laboratoire de recherches historiques Rhône-Alpes-Lyon-France) and currently visiting scholar at the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies. He has recently published a book entitled Femmes dévoilées. Des Algériennes en France à l’heure de la décolonisation [Unveiled women. Algerian women during the decolonization time], ENS Editions, 2016.

Cost : Free and open to the public. RSVP not required for admission.

Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies