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France and the Mediterranean

International Relations, Culture and Politics

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Edited By Emmanuel Godin and Natalya Vince

This multidisciplinary edited volume examines wide-ranging exchanges between France and its Mediterranean neighbours and their impact. It questions the changing notion of a Mediterranean space and its representation, centrality and relevance in terms of France’s international relations under Sarkozy’s presidency, from the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean and its complex articulations with the European Union’s own agenda in the region, to the tortuous relations with Libya, made even more complicated by the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’. Beyond the realm of state relations and formal policy networks, the volume examines the crucial role played by diasporas, the interplay between postcolonial and transnational representations in the fields of cultural diplomacy, cinema and architecture, and considers how these can produce merged or hybrid identities. Later in the collection, the politics of ethnicity in post-war France, the interplay between negative perceptions of Islam and the changing memory of the Algerian War, and the evolution of Franco-Algerian relations since 1962 are used to question the weight of the colonial past when analysing the relations between France and North Africa.

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Natalya Vince - Questioning the Colonial Fracture: The Algerian War as a ‘Useful Past’ in Contemporary France and Algeria 305

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Natalya Vince Questioning the Colonial Fracture: The Algerian War as a ‘Useful Past’ in Contemporary France and Algeria On 21 May 2010, under intense police surveillance and the angry shouts of protestors, Franco-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb presented his latest film, Hors-la-loi (Outside of the Law), at the Cannes film festival. Bouchareb’s previous film, Indigènes (Days of Glory, 2006), had been a largely consensual af fair, recovering the forgotten role of soldiers from France’s North African colonies in the fight to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe and reinserting them into the national historical narrative as loyal, albeit marginalized, subjects. The four main characters were collectively rewarded with the Cannes prize for best male actor and President Jacques Chirac increased the pensions of former soldiers from the colonies following a screening of the film. Pitched as a form of sequel to Indigènes, Hors-la-loi enters into a highly contentious period of history in which ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ remain a matter of virulently defended opinion: the build-up to, and the unfolding of, the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62). The film opens with a representation of the Sétif massacre of 8 May 1945. Following the liberation of Europe, Algerians in the eastern regions of Sétif and Guelma f looded the streets demanding the liberation of imprisoned nationalist Messali Hadj and the right to self-determination. The sight of forbidden nationalist f lags and pro-independence banners in this pacifist protest triggered the wrath of the French authorities. Violence broke out, and in the repression...

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