The impact of the Algerian War (1954-1962) continues to resonate in France, where the subject was long repressed in the collective psyche. This book sheds new light on a memory community at the heart of the conflict: the million European settlers known as the pieds-noirs, who migrated to France as the war reached its bloody end. Aoife Connolly draws on theories of performativity to explore autobiographical and fictional narratives by the settlers in over 30 canonical and non-canonical works of literature and film produced from the colony’s imminent demise up to the present day. Connolly focuses on renewed attachment to the family in exile in a comprehensive analysis of settler masculinity, femininity, childhood, and adolescence that uncovers neglected representations, including homosexual and Jewish voices. Findings on the construction of a post-independence identity and collective memory have broader implications for communities affected by colonization and migration. Scholars of French Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender and Identity Studies, Memory Studies and Migration Studies will find this book particularly useful.
Aoife Connolly is lecturer of French studies at Technological University Dublin.
Chapter 1: Camus, Meursault, Daru, Cormery: The First Pied-Noir Men
Chapter 2: Performing French Algerian Femininity
Chapter 3: Performing Pied-Noir Masculinity
Chapter 4: Performing Childhood and Adolescence through French Algerian Narrators
About the Author
In Performing the Pied-Noir Family, Aoife Connolly has produced an important contribution to the growing scholarship focused on the cultural production of the Français d’Algérie, better known since 1962 as the pieds-noirs. This book remains an important contribution to the field that will be welcomed by students and scholars of French and Mediterranean (post-)colonial studies.
Performing the Pied-Noir Family is the first book to explore how gender roles are modeled by French-Algerian settler characters in both literature and film relating to colonial Algeria.... Her work fills an important gap and allows us to more clearly see the social expectations imposed within families and between individuals in, and after, colonial Algeria.
Aoife Connolly shows how self-representations of the settler populations who fled to France when Algeria became independent have changed over time, with the topos of hypermasculinity foregrounded during the colonial period tempered by a more complex range of gender roles. She shines valuable new light on these developments by examining a large body of works by familiar and lesser known writers and filmmakers. Twists and turns since independence are brought skilfully into focus by mapping them onto ongoing revisions in the reputation of colonial Algeria’s most famous writer, Albert Camus.
Using the family as a prism through which to view constructions of identity by pied-noir authors, Connolly’s wide-ranging analysis makes an intellectually rigorous contribution to the academic literature on this important postcolonial community. This thoughtful and historically contextualised deconstruction of narratives via the categories of masculinity, femininity and youth adds welcome nuance to our understanding of a community that is frequently essentialized.
In short, this monograph brings attention to a field of research and a corpus of texts that merit more scholarly attention regarding the relationships between settler narratives and contemporary attitudes about migration and France’s colonial past.
Aoife Connolly’s book, through an original and very relevant prism, examines the cultural production of a group whose identity was long essentialized. The author, who draws on a large corpus of fictional and autobiographical texts as well as films, rigorously demonstrates the different ways in which the paradigm of the family is used in these works to construct a specific memory and identity, in response to the trauma of exile.
Readers will learn a lot from Aoife Connolly’s study of the relatively little-known literature of repatriates of European origin in the wake of the Algerian War… Connolly succeeds in demonstrating the more diverse perspectives of certain pied-noir texts.