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Title:The veil or a brother's life: French manipulations of Muslim women's images during the Algerian War, 1954-62
Author:Perego, Elizabeth
Periodical:The Journal of North African Studies (ISSN 1743-9345)
Geographic term:Algeria
Subjects:colonial policy
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/13629387.2015.1013942
Abstract:In the middle of the Algerian War of Independence, the French military and government launched an elaborate campaign to 'liberate' Algerian Muslim women. The timing of its inception indicated one of the strongest motivations behind this elaborate series of policies. Indeed, French propagandists and officials, prompted by the appearance on the international stage of 'modern'-looking female Algerian nationalist agents, scrambled to uphold the myth that Algerian Muslim gender relations in the territory were 'backwards' and only they could rectify this shortcoming in Algerian society. They consequently embarked upon the emancipation campaign mainly in pursuit of convincing outsiders of France's purported ability and duty to make Algeria 'modern'. For this reason, the production of photographic evidence capable of visually demonstrating that Muslim women were becoming French and liberated under French guidance was one of the campaign's central aims. In order to obtain such evidence, military agents exploited and falsified representations of Muslim women, a process this article examines. The present work additionally elucidates many of the hypocrisies inherent in the French army's exploitation of Muslim women and their bodies through their elaborate propagandist efforts. Through their actions on the ground in Algeria, French soldiers and military leaders, including individuals directly implicated in the 'emancipation' campaign, were actually confining, abusing, and torturing Muslim women rather than freeing them. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]