The Colonial Situation in Algeria: Between War and Peace

Special Report: Neither War nor Peace
Issues and Consequences of a Controversy over the Qualification of the French Colonial Regime
By Laure Blévis

This article intends to study the controversies regarding the characterization and qualifications of colonial regimes (through the Algerian case). It focuses on several patterns : the colonial situation as permanent war, as state of exception, or as ambivalent regime fluctuating between peace and war. However, these controversies are not only theoretical or limited to the academic sphere. They were crucial during the entire colonial period. Colonial exceptions were regularly denounced, both in France and in the colony, precisely for the discrepancy between governmental metropolitan principles and colonial practices. The ambiguity of colonial regime not only has been a constraint for colonial administrators who had to justify their actions, but has also nourished the mobilisations of colonial actors, being French settlers of colonised Algerians.

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