chapter  11
Historical realities
Voices from the war of Algerian decolonization
WithArianna Barzman-Grennan
Pages 16

Algeria was a French colony from 1830 until 1962, and this chapter examines the memory of the lived experience of decolonization and the role the shared memories have played. The war itself, which lasted from 1954 to 1962, is remembered as an example of violent decolonization, but the lived experience was more than the truths the French offered to the world. Other truths about the participants in the colonial encounter can be understood through looking at firsthand accounts of the experience, literature, and post-colonial theory. Torture was a fact of life during the war, and although it was acknowledged, such abuses of human rights were allowed to continue rather than being condemned. Such practices became an expected and ingrained part of counterinsurgency, written into the doctrines by French soldiers, to be studied by others (including Americans). Even though the overt nature of colonialism has shifted, the biases and prejudices that support it have not vanished, torture is still used around the world, and people with the lower hand are not given a voice. This chapter offers a consideration of those things as they developed during the Algerian war of decolonization.