Colonial Memory and Postcolonial Europe

Colonial Memory and Postcolonial Europe

Maltese Settlers in Algeria and France
Andrea L. Smith
Distribution: World
Publication date: 08/21/2006
Format: Paperback 15 b&w photos, 4 maps, 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21856-8
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Co-winner, William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology

[I]ntersects with very active areas of research in history and anthropology, and links these domains of inquiry spanning Europe and North Africa in a creative and innovative fashion." —Douglas Holmes, Binghamton University

Maltese settlers in colonial Algeria had never lived in France, but as French citizens were abruptly "repatriated" there after Algerian independence in 1962. In France today, these pieds-noirs are often associated with "Mediterranean" qualities, the persisting tensions surrounding the French-Algerian War, and far-right, anti-immigrant politics. Through their social clubs, they have forged an identity in which Malta, not Algeria, is the unifying ancestral homeland. Andrea L. Smith uses history and ethnography to argue that scholars have failed to account for the effect of colonialism on Europe itself. She explores nostalgia and collective memory; the settlers’ liminal position in the colony as subalterns and colonists; and selective forgetting, in which Malta replaces Algeria, the "true" homeland, which is now inaccessible, fraught with guilt and contradiction. The study provides insight into race, ethnicity, and nationalism in Europe as well as cultural context for understanding political trends in contemporary France.

Author Bio

Andrea L. Smith is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Lafayette College and editor of Europe’s Invisible Migrants.

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Table of Contents

1. A Song in Malta
2. Maltese Settler Clubs in France
3. A Hierarchy of Settlers and the Liminal Maltese
4. The Algerian Melting Pot
5. The Ambivalence of Assimilation
6. The French-Algerian War and Its Aftermath
7. Diaspora, Rejection, and Nostalgérie
8. Settler Ethnicity and Identity Politics in Postcolonial France
9. Place, Replaced: Malta as Algeria in the Pied-noir Imagination

Sources Cited