To be a moudjahida in independent Algeria

To be a moudjahida in independent Algeria

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In her thesis‘To be a moudjahida in independent Algeria: itineraries and memories of women veterans of the Algerian War of Independence’ (University of London, 2008 under the supervision of Professor Julian Jackson), Natalya Vince provides a new examination of the diverse experiences of Algerian women during the War of Independence. It is the first study to analyse female veterans’ itineraries in the post-war period, investigating their status in contemporary Algerian society and their place in collective memories at national, local and familial levels. As such, it provides counterbalance to the popular and scholarly consensus that after the war women, willingly or not ‘went back into the kitchen’. The research incorporates extensive oral interviews with 30 female veterans, unexploited primary documents from Algerian, French and British archives and a survey of 95 students at a teacher training college in Algiers on their attitudes towards the war, veterans, the teaching of history and the transmission of memory. Using oral history challenges the monolithic, top-down treatment that has dominated historiography of the Algerian War, highlighting the importance of gender, socio-economic circumstances and locality in determining wartime and post-war experiences. The case study at the teacher training college in particular highlighted continuing shifts in interpretations of the war. Many students of this generation, born at the same time as the upsurge of Islamism in Algeria, framed the War of Independence as a holy war, employing a religiously-impregnated language which is not that of their elders. Here is an extract from an interview with an FLN nurse, carried out by Natalya Vince in Algiers in December 2005.

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