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Memory and Exile: Contemporary France and the Algerian War (1954-1962)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines French collective memory of the Algerian War (1954-62), a conflict that engendered numerous exiles, with a particular focus on Dalila Kerchouche’s Mon père, ce harki and Zahia Rahmani’s Moze. Published in 2003, these novels about the experience of harkis (Algerian soldiers who fought for the French army during the Algerian War) and their families, confirm that part of finding home and ending exile revolves around coming to terms with a traumatic past and being recognized in French history. The harkis have clearly been excluded from French society for the last forty years, enduring a form of internal exile in camps, occluded from French history, and thus silenced. Kerchouche’s and Rahmani’s novels illustrate the role of agency in the construction of collective memory, as the authors attempt to gain greater recognition of this group’s role in French history, thus fostering better understanding of the harkis, allowing reconciliation between generations and groups, and allowing us to comment on discourses of citizen inclusion and exclusion in contemporary French civil society.



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