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Publication - Dr Donal Hassett

    Proud colons, proud Frenchmen

    settler colonialism and the extreme right in interwar Algeria

    Citation

    Hassett, D, 2017, ‘Proud colons, proud Frenchmen: settler colonialism and the extreme right in interwar Algeria’. Settler Colonial Studies.

    Abstract

    If any element of colonial Algerian society can be seen to embody a commitment to the logic of elimination at the heart of settler colonialism, it is, perhaps, the extreme-right. With its unabashed defence of European supremacy and its enthusiastic celebration of the military and agricultural conquest of the land, the interwar extreme-right was steeped in the tropes of settler colonial politics. Nevertheless, its embrace of both the discourse and the practices typical of political movements in settler colonial polities was hampered by the demographic and political realities of colonial rule in French Algeria. In particular, the rise of indigenous political movements in the colony and the election of the Popular Front in the metropole would force the extreme right to move beyond its traditional politics grounded in anti-Semitism and celebrations of settler hegemony. In this paper, I examine the complex blend of strategies pursued by movements of the extreme right in Algeria to expand their support among the settler population while also seeking to establish a limited foothold among the indigenous population. I contend that the leadership of these organisations sought to reconcile these seemingly contradictory goals by combining the evocation of cruder forms of settler hegemony with a more sophisticated and politically palatable defence of exclusion rooted in the rhetoric of French republican imperialism. I ask if this concession to the political norms of the metropole should be understood as a distinctive feature that places the specific settler colonial context of Algeria and the politics practiced there outside of the theoretical and analytical categories proposed by settler colonial theory.

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