By Andrea L. Smith
Maltese settlers in colonial Algeria had by no means lived in France, yet as French voters have been unexpectedly “repatriated” there after Algerian independence in 1962. In France this present day, those pieds-noirs are frequently linked to “Mediterranean” traits, the persisting tensions surrounding the French-Algerian struggle, and far-right, anti-immigrant politics. via their social golf equipment, they've got solid an id during which Malta, now not Algeria, is the unifying ancestral place of birth. Andrea L. Smith makes use of background and ethnography to argue that students have didn't account for the impact of colonialism on Europe itself. She explores nostalgia and collective reminiscence; the settlers’ liminal place within the colony as subalterns and colonists; and selective forgetting, within which Malta replaces Algeria, the “true” place of origin, that is now inaccessible, fraught with guilt and contradiction. The examine offers perception into race, ethnicity, and nationalism in Europe in addition to cultural context for figuring out political tendencies in modern France.
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Additional info for Colonial Memory and Postcolonial Europe: Maltese Settlers in Algeria and France
The quintessential repository of collective memory, according to Nora, is “peasant culture,” fast disappearing. History is part of the problem, for its true mission is to “suppress and destroy” memory (1989, 9). His Lieux de mémoire project represents a response to this loss of living memory. A lieu de mémoire, in his view, is “any significant entity, whether material or non-material in nature, which by dint of human will or the work of time has become a symbolic element of the memorial heritage of any community” (Nora 1996, xvii).
François Xuereb said that he was unclear what my interests were, and perhaps I could make a formal presentation to them at that time. The next day, I reiterated my interests in a collective memory of the Maltese experience in North Africa. I thought that, being directors of a social club for people of this background, they might have something to say on the subject. François took the floor, attempting to answer all of my questions right then and there. “Yes, well, yes, I can help you. I will tell you how this emigration occurred.
The noise level in the rented hall was incredible as people milled around, shouting, hugging, kissing newcomers, and dragging metal chairs against the concrete floor to make room for new arrivals at their tables. A crowd stood waiting at the bar to order pastis or oranginas and to secure some appetizers to bring back to their friends. I was told that two hundred people were expected. At first I wandered somewhat aimlessly, looking at the blown-up copies of old postcards of Algeria that were for sale as well as the large display of photographs of the people reunited that day, showing them at age five or ten in posed group shots of grade school classes and school football teams.
Colonial Memory and Postcolonial Europe: Maltese Settlers in Algeria and France by Andrea L. Smith