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Commemorating Race and Empire in the First World War Centenary$
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Ben Wellings and Shanti Sumartojo

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940889

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786940889.001.0001

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A Tale of Two Monuments

A Tale of Two Monuments

The War Memorials of Oran and Algiers and Commemorative Culture in Colonial and Post–Colonial Algeria

(p.151) A Tale of Two Monuments
Commemorating Race and Empire in the First World War Centenary

Dónal Hassett

Liverpool University Press

The Mediterranean separates two worlds in me, one where memories are preserved in measured spaces, the other where the wind and sand erase all trace of men on the open ranges

(Albert Camus, The First Man).1

With these words, colonial Algeria’s most famous war orphan, Albert Camus, encapsulated the struggle of thousands of families across his homeland, both Europeans and indigenous Algerians, who sought to commemorate a loved one lost on the distant battlefields of Europe. For Camus, while France was the land of cypress-lined war cemeteries, his Algerian homeland was marked by memorial anarchy where memory defied official processes of regulation and the forces of nature conspired to undermine aspirations to eternal perpetuation. Behind this lyricism lies a tacit acknowledgement of the very real challenges facing those who seek to elaborate a commemorative discourse in colonial and post-colonial societies where, even more so than in metropolitan societies, rival narratives of past, present and future are constantly struggling for dominance. In this chapter, I will trace the evolution of commemorative culture in colonial and post-colonial Algeria by comparing and contrasting the case studies of the war memorials in the cities of Algiers and Oran. In ...

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