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This material on gender, psychological warfare and the Algerian War was designed in collaboration with staff and students at City and Islington College following the IB unit 'Causes, Practices and Effects of Wars'. It provides material for between 2 and 4 hours of lessons, depending on how you choose to use it, encouraging students to engage with a range primary sources which I have translated into English. By getting students to think about the nature of sources we use, it could also be used by A Level or first year undergraduates following a course on historical methods. The primary sources here are in many cases original archives or oral interviews so this source is also potentially of interest to undergraduates and postgraduates studying the Algerian War - especially if they don't read French!
Dominating the Algiers skyline is Maqam el-chahid (monument to the martyr), inaugurated in 1982 (under Chadli Bendjedid's presidency) to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of independence. Three enormous palmettes stretch 97 metres high, at the foot of each, three statutes are said to symbolise the three pillars of the proclaimed revolution, cultural, industrial and agrarian - although they are all armed men.
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.
Dr Joseph McGonagle, Lecturer in Cultural Studies in the French Speaking World, University of Manchester answers questions on key themes in filmic representations of Franco-Algerian relations, the advantages and pitfalls of using film to help students understand historical and contemporary Franco-Algerian relations(interview carried out by Natalya Vince, March 2009). The 12 minute interview took place just after the one-day conference on 'France, North Africa and the Middle East Interdisciplinary and Multimedia Perspectives', held at the University of Portsmouth on 18 March 2009. 1. What are some of the key themes in films that represent Franco-Algerian relations? 2. What are some of the advantages and some of the pitfalls of using films as a tool to help students to understand contemporaries or Franco-Algerian relations? 3. Do you think students are able to place their understanding of films in context of the real world? Do you think there’s a danger of over –interpretation? 4. Which 3 films would you choose which are most useful for students to study?