The Camp Joffre, otherwise known as the Camp de Rivesaltes, played a role in many of the major conflicts of the twentieth century, including the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Algerian war of independence. Originally designed as a military base, the camp was frequently reconfigured and was used for diverse purposes, often serving as an internment centre. The memorial museum, which was opened in October 2015, bears witness to the camp’s multifaceted history. As a postcolonial site of memory, Rivesaltes is primarily associated with the harkis, the Algerians who worked for the French during the war of independence and who found themselves isolated in temporary housing camps when they were repatriated to France at the end of the conflict. Emblematic of the housing camps in general, Rivesaltes figures prominently in the community’s collective memories as a symbol of their marginalization and of France’s failure to protect them.
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