william gallois on genocide and settler colonialism in algeria


William Gallois, ‘Genocide in Nineteenth-Century Algeria’, Journal of Genocide Research 15, 1 (2013).

While the French colony of Algeria was known to have been a violent place, historians have rarely compared the specificities and contours of its violent culture with those of other nineteenth-century settler colonies such as Australia and America. This review article asks why this has been the case and whether new definitions of genocide that have emerged from the study of other colonies might not be applied to Algeria. It contends that the systematic qualities of organised French violence—chiefly in the form of massacres known as ‘razzias’—have been underestimated and that the Algerian case merits study by functionalist and intentionalist scholars of genocide. While work still needs to be undertaken connecting French ‘exterminationist’ literatures to the practice of mass killing in the colony, a series of recent histories of Algeria have suggested that traditional literatures underestimated the scope and effects of French violence upon the indigenous peoples of Algeria.

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