Algeria Revisited: Contested Identities in the Colonial and Postcolonial Periods

Download Conference PosterThis conference, organised by the University of Leicester in association with the University of Southampton, will be hosted by the Department of French within the School of Modern Languages at the University of Leicester from 11-13 April 2012. The conference will be presented jointly by Dr Rabah Aissaoui, University of Leicester, and Dr Claire Eldridge, University of Southampton.

On 5 July 1962, after 132 years of French colonial rule and following eight years of brutal fighting in arguably the most iconic war of decolonisation, Algeria attained independence.

Port of Algeria
Port of Algiers
To mark the 50th anniversary of this historic moment, this interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the ways in which identities have been shaped by and, in turn, have informed Algeria during the colonial and postcolonial eras. Bringing together scholars working across a range of disciplines, the intention is to foster a holistic appreciation of the significance of this major historical turning point and its afterlives.

The conference is themed around the central issue of identity which has consistently played a vital role in social, cultural and political debates in and about Algeria. Identity has also been crucial in terms of Algeria’s relationship to its former colonial master, France. On both sides of the Mediterranean identities have been shaped via complex processes that have highlighted themes such as history, memory, culture, language, ethnicity, gender, religion, exile and generational belonging: all of which have functioned in specific ways as sites of identification and contestation. Through these points of reference, diverse identities have been constructed; ideologies and beliefs forged; power and control claimed or challenged; and the destiny of Algerians and Algeria fostered, denied or imposed. While in France, the distinct yet overlapping diasporic identities that emerged before, and more specifically after, independence in 1962 also bear witness to the salience of Algeria, both experienced and imagined, as a contentious and shifting marker of belonging, conflict and reconciliation.

The Algeria Revisited conference provides an interdisciplinary forum for scholars of France and Algeria to exchange their latest research and ideas at this important historical juncture. We are pleased to be able to bring together academics working across multiple disciplines and from a truly international range of institutions in order to facilitate a genuinely interdisciplinary dialogue. This diversity promises to yield wide-ranging and stimulating discussions, which we hope will help advance individual and collective research agendas in new and innovative directions. This conference offers a unique opportunity in this major anniversary year to reflect on the field as a whole and to map out key trends and directions within this rich area of study.

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