The role of European women and the question of mixed couples in the Algerian nationalist movement in France, circa 1918-1962

Neil MacMaster

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Interwar migration of Algerian workers to France, predominantly a movement of single males, led to the formation of numerous mixed couples, a pattern that was remarkably different from the high level of ethnic and religious segregation in the colony. This article examines the significant but largely unrecognized role of European women in the émigré nationalist movement. After 1945, and in particular with the start of the War of Independence, family reunification led to a rapid increase in female emigration, enabling a more "patriotic" form of marriage. Concurrently, the influence of the reformist Ulema, which opposed mixed marriage as a symbol of Western assimilation and the subversion of Arabic culture, language, and identity, spread into the nationalist movement. In the latent conflict between more secular, socialist, and progressive currents in the French Federation of the Front de Libération Nationale that accepted or engaged in mixed-couple relations and a religiously inspired, exclusionary, and chauvinistic form of nationalism, the latter won out in the postcolonial state, initiating a long phase of antifeminist reaction
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-386
Number of pages30
JournalFrench Historical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011

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