By Andrea L. Smith
"[I]ntersects with very lively components of study in historical past and anthropology, and hyperlinks those domain names of inquiry spanning Europe and North Africa in an inventive and leading edge fashion." -- Douglas Holmes, Binghamton UniversityMaltese settlers in colonial Algeria had by no means lived in France, yet as French electorate have been without warning "repatriated" there after Algerian independence in 1962. In France this present day, those pieds-noirs are frequently linked to "Mediterranean" features, the persisting tensions surrounding the French-Algerian struggle, and far-right, anti-immigrant politics. via their social golf equipment, they've got cast an identification during which Malta, no longer Algeria, is the unifying ancestral fatherland. Andrea L. Smith makes use of historical past and ethnography to argue that students have didn't account for the impression of colonialism on Europe itself. She explores nostalgia and collective reminiscence; the settlers' liminal place within the colony as subalterns and colonists; and selective forgetting, during which Malta replaces Algeria, the "true" fatherland, that's now inaccessible, fraught with guilt and contradiction. The examine offers perception into race, ethnicity, and nationalism in Europe in addition to cultural context for figuring out political traits in modern France.
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Extra info for Colonial Memory And Postcolonial Europe: Maltese Settlers in Algeria And France (New Anthropologies of Europe)
The Maltese who migrated to Algeria in the early nineteenth century occupied a unique, and uniquely stressful, status position in the colony. They were among the poorest of the Europeans to migrate across the Mediterranean, some arriving with no possessions whatsoever, not even shoes (hence their occasional appellation va pieds-nus [goes barefoot]). They were also a colonized people; the British had claimed Malta at the beginning of the nineteenth century and would continue to do so until 1964.
On the other hand, the Maltese associations differ from other pied-noir organizations in that they have been consciously created around the members’ common ethnic heritage. According to French historians of colonial Algeria and many contemporary French anthropologists, these social clubs should not exist. 15 This dominant “melting pot” view asserts that once the foreign settlers became French citizens by legal decree in the late nineteenth century, the great assimilating tools of the French state, which included the educational system, compulsory military service for men, and an array of political and legal institutions, as well as social practices such as intermarriage, acted together to dissolve any remaining cul- 18 | tural barriers.
26 The mass naturalization of foreign settlers did not lead to the rapid cultural and social assimilation that the dominant narrative would have us believe. In his landmark work, Making Algeria French (1990), historian David Prochaska has demonstrated the persistence of marked social and economic distinctions between French and non-French colonists well into the twentieth century, even between “original” and naturalized French. The lowerclass whites are described by Prochaska as a “colony within a colony,” and people referred to this persistent “subaltern colonist” population as petits 24 | blancs into the twentieth century.