Post-Colonial Negotiations: Visualising the Franco-Algerian Relationship in the Post-War Period

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Arts Languages and Cultures


This project will consider how colonial and post-colonial relations between France and Algeria have been represented since the outbreak of the Algerian War (1954-62), and will track the shifting way in which the idea or myth of 'Algeria' has been constructed, portrayed and understood in France during that time. The project's central hypothesis is that visual modes of representation in particular (such as film, video, photography and television) have played a crucial role in the mediation of the Franco-Algerian relationship. It will examine the role played by the visual image in constructing and contesting dominant modes of understanding both during and after decolonisation, and will do so by investigating a range of material from both within and outside mass visual media.

The memory and legacy of the Algerian War continue to dominate French history, and Algeria remains a vital reference point in metropolitan France. Recent political debate, such as the discussion sparked by the 2006 film Indigènes, and its criticism of France's disregard for the contribution made by Algerian soldiers during World War II, makes clear that France is still coming to terms with the trauma and consequences of decolonisation in general, and its painful separation from Algeria in particular.

The project is guided by two broad objectives: firstly, it will set out to establish how the idea of 'Algeria' has been constructed within France since the time of the Algerian War, what visions of the conflict, of Algeria, and of its relationship with France have come to dominate, and why. Secondly, it will explore how these dominant paradigms have been reconfigured and contested in contemporary French and Algerian visual culture, as a post-war generation of Algerians and Franco-Algerians begin to examine the relationship between the two countries.

The project will represent a timely intervention into current debates within France and the UK on post-colonial politics and culture, migration, settlement and links between Europe and North Africa. Among its proposed outputs is an exhibition designed to present both the project's findings and the work of some of the contemporary visual artists it will discuss. The exhibition will mark the end of the project, and enable it to promote understanding of the complexities of the Franco-Algerian relationship and of the politics of visual representation within the post-colonial era among a wider audience.


10 25 50
Description We identified the crucial role played by images in articulating the complexities of relations between France and Algeria since the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962) and throughout the post-colonial era.
Exploitation Route Our research may provide conceptual and analytical frameworks for fellow researchers in postcolonial studies, especially with regard to those probing links between Europe and the Maghreb.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Manchester's cultural sector has a long heritage of exhibiting works by African artists and artists of African origin, but the exhibition 'New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK' at Cornerhouse, Manchester in 2011 was the first of its kind to focus explicitly on the significance of Africa's largest country and its historical and contemporary links with both France and the UK. The research-backed exhibition "New Cartographies" brought together the work by ten emerging and established contemporary artists to explore Africa's largest country and highlight its complex relationship with Europe. The event enabled collaboration between those artists and visits by Algeria-based artists to the UK to network with fellow artists, informing their own practice, and gaining international exposure for their work. Using a variety of media - video, maps, photographs of the disappeared, documentary photography and installation - this exhibition facilitated civic and cross-cultural awareness by informing debates on colonial and post-colonial politics and culture, mapping out relations between Europe and Algeria, delving into the country's troubled history and exploring the issues of diaspora, migration, memory and identity.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Economic

Description New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK 
Organisation Cornerhouse
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Exhibition held at Cornerhouse in Manchester during 8 April-5 June 2011 featuring ten established and emerging artists from Algeria, France and the UK.
Collaborator Contribution Cornerhouse was crucial to the exhibition's success and provided both financial and logistical support throughout.
Impact n/a
Start Year 2008