The Algerian War: Transcending Splintered Memories

  • Richard L. Derderian


If the essence of the national spirit resides in shared memories, as Renan argued, how do we build a memory consensus today?1 In Les Lieux de Mémoire, or Realms of Memory in translation, editor Pierre Nora’s response is for historians to tell the old national story in a new way. Inspired by Ernest Lavisse’s success in “reknitting the national garment of national history” at the end of the last century, but recognizing the impossibility of returning to outmoded, teleological, grand narratives, Nora proposes a new symbolic history of the nation.2 Harnessing the intellectual energy of over 120 historians, Nora sets out to unearth and expose the many but now imperiled and largely forgotten national sites of memory that litter the French landscape. By revealing their inner workings and those who gave them their special symbolic charge, Nora’s hope is to weave a new national tapestry held together not by the seamless narrative of an eternal France but rather by the countless sites that held special meaning for past generations.


Grand Narrative Theater Company Private Memory Ritualize Form Foreign Legion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ernest Renan, “What is a Nation?” in Omar Dahbour and Micheline R. Ishay (eds.), The Nationalism Reader (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Benjamin Stora, La Gangrene et l’oubli: La mémoire de la guerre d’Algérie (Paris: La Découvert, 1991), pp. 293–294.Google Scholar
  3. 22.
    Claire Mauss-Copeaux, Appelés en Algérie: La parole confisquée (Paris: Hachette, 1998), p. 50.Google Scholar
  4. 34.
    Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 44.Google Scholar
  5. 43.
    Kristin Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© North Africans in Contemporary France 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard L. Derderian

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations