Unity above all? Relationships and Rivalries within the Pied-Noir Community

  • Claire Eldridge


The conclusion of the Algerian War of Independence was accompanied by one of the largest post-1945 population movements as almost all of Algeria’s one million European residents left their homes and crossed the Mediterranean to metropolitan France.1 Aside from its scale, one of the most notable features of the pied-noir migration was the speed with which a highly diverse group of individuals came to be constructed as a cohesive and broadly homogeneous community possessed of a shared set of attributes and goals. Key to this transformation were associations that served as the creators of and vehicles for this collective identity which, in turn, became the basis for the articulation of a range of grievances and demands addressed to the French state. Operating as ‘instrument(s) of identity’, associations therefore enabled Pieds-Noirs to ‘recognize [themselves] and to be recognized’ as a community.2 In all of this, unity, or at least the external appearance of unity, was paramount. The more the Pieds-Noirs were seen as a coherent bloc, the more likely it was that those in power would take their demands seriously.


German Case French Colonialism Colonial Past French State Associational Movement 
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© Claire Eldridge 2016

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  • Claire Eldridge

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