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By William Gallois

Utilizing newly-discovered documentation from the French army data, A historical past of Violence within the Early Algerian Colony bargains a accomplished learn of the types of violence followed via the French military in Africa. Its insurance levels from certain case reviews of massacres to the query of even if a genocide happened in Algeria.

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That Ducuing does not reflect on the fact that Algerians were unable to ‘oppose with force’ is revealing of the general tendency to overestimate the scale of potential resistance to French forces, explained here by his assertion that when opposition was mounted it was of an extraordinary and therefore fearful character. 83 What is offered here is something of a summation of the textualisation of violence in the colony, for while we know that attacks on villages tended to be extraordinarily brutal affairs, this aggression was both explained and in some senses motivated by a social scientific universe of facts, assumptions and theories about the nature of the peoples being attacked.

Chapter 6 looks in detail at three such environmental and exterminatory razzias from the 1840s. Quite what form of economy would emerge in place of those which were displaced was much discussed among interested French parties, with many opposing the view of Bugeaud and some of his fellow generals that a military colony should occupy and exploit the land. There were powerful interest groups – most especially French traders – who did Introduction 23 not believe the army itself should grab these spoils of war, but, equally, there were those in French military, economic and political elites who believed that the goal of establishing a tabula rasa on Algerian soil such that new European futures should be writ upon it was misguided or inhumane.

35 A tension therefore existed between two types of wickedness here, with the demands of the sacred challenged by the avarice of the profane. What was clearer from such texts was the assurance that faced with the threats of the Mahometans, the good European should not renounce their own faith and convert. The angelic figures of French women, such as Mlle de Bourke, came to symbolise the virtues of such resistance. ’36 Yet the more detailed substance of such texts reveal the fact that such declarations were reflections of European anxieties that their countrymen should choose to convert to Islam.

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