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Our Civilizing MissionThe Lessons of Colonial Education$
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Nicholas Harrison

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941763

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941763.001.0001

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‘Nos ancêtres les colons’

‘Nos ancêtres les colons’

Chapter:
(p.37) Chapter Two ‘Nos ancêtres les colons’
Source:
Our Civilizing Mission
Author(s):

Nicholas Harrison

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781786941763.003.0003

This chapter examines educational history in colonial Algeria, the context from which most of the writers and texts at the centre of the book emerged. It raises general questions about the role played in colonialism and its purported ‘civilizing mission’ by colonial education, which was characterized by a remarkable diversity of perspectives, policies and institutions. Examples include the prestigious Lycée Bugeaud and the teacher training college in Bouzaréah‎, which were attended by several major writers; and médersas (/madrasas) where Islam and Arabic were studied, which were also attended by some eminent francophone writers, and funded by the French authorities well into an era when all state-funded education was supposed to be secular. Debates included those around adaptation and assimilation associated with the mythical phrase ‘nos ancêtres les Gaulois’. Overall the chapter shows that the place of education in colonialism is misunderstood if one assumes that colonial education worked simply and consistently as a tool of colonialism – even if that was a significant part of the story. [166]

Keywords:   history of French education, colonial Algeria, mission civilisatrice / civilizing mission, adaptation, assimilation, Bouzaréah (école normale/teacher training college), Islamic and Arabic education, médersas/madrasas, nos ancêtres les Gaulois

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