Tag Archives | Algerian war

“The Battle of Algiers” at 50: From 1960s Radicalism to the Classrooms of West Point

By Madeleine Dobie (Professor of French at Columbia University) Originally published on The Los Angeles Review of Books website at https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/battle-algiers-50-1960s-radicalism-classrooms-west-point/#! THIS MONTH The Battle of Algiers turns 50. But Gillo Pontecorvo’s acclaimed movie about the Algerian people’s fight for liberation from French colonialism shows little sign of aging. Often described as a “classic” that has “stood the test of time,” the film has been acknowledged as an influence on everyone from the Black Panthers and the Red Army Faction to the military juntas of the Southern Cone. It may, however, have had the greatest impact in the United States, where it has appealed both to scholars of colonial and postcolonial history, such as myself, and to members of the military and defense community. A screening of the film at the Pentagon in August 2003 unleashed a small media storm, as journalists reacted with skepticism and scorn: was the Bush administration at such a loss in Iraq that it needed to draw lessons from a 40-year-old Italian movie? “It seems far too late for Mr. Bush to begin studying about counterinsurgency now that Iraq has cratered into civil war,” opined Maureen Dowd. “Can’t someone get the president a copy of Gone […]

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Dangerous shortcuts: Paris attacks and the Algerian War of Independence

The British media coverage of the 13 November attacks on Paris and its aftermath, and in particular the analyses of certain “experts”, has been problematic. In her analysis, Natalya Vince, historian of Algeria, points out the dangers of shortcutting historical facts in favour of easy and inaccurate connections, and notably the misuse of the Algerian war to understand contemporary France.   The right-wing media reaction to the horrific attacks of 13 November in Paris has been predictable. Muslim populations living in the West have been presented as an enemy within and the wave of Syrian refugees desperately seeking to enter Europe depicted as a cynical cover for the infiltration of Islamist terrorists. Such discourses will have devastating effects for Syrian refugees and Muslims living in Europe and North America. Subsequent declarations by more than half of the USA’s governors that Syrian refugees were not welcome in their states, the growing number of reports of acts of violence and hostility towards people who “look Muslim” and the vandalising of mosques clearly demonstrate this. However, as arguments go, conspiratorial claims about “Fifth columns” and “Trojan horses” are also very easy to dismiss. It is fairly obvious that they are based on crude […]

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