From empire to exile

History and memory within the pied-noir and harki communities, 1962–2012

By Claire Eldridge

From empire to exile


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8723-3
  • Pages: 352
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: July 2016
  • BIC Category: History, Humanities / History, History, France, European history, HISTORY / Europe / France
  • Series: Studies in Modern French History


This book explores the commemorative afterlives of the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62), one of the world's most iconic wars of decolonisation. It focuses on the million French settlers - pieds-noirs - and the tens of thousands of harkis - the French army's native auxiliaries - who felt compelled to migrate to France when colonial rule ended.

Challenging the idea that Algeria was a 'forgotten' war that only returned to French public attention in the 1990s, this study reveals a dynamic picture of memory activism undertaken continuously since 1962 by grassroots communities connected to this conflict. Reconceptualising the ways in which the Algerian War has been debated, evaluated and commemorated in the subsequent five decades, From empire to exile makes an original contribution to important discussions surrounding the contentious issues of memory, migration and empire in contemporary France that will appeal to students and scholars of history and cultural studies.


'Eldridge's book provides an outstanding model to build on.'
Darcie Fontaine, University of South Florida, H-France Review Vol. 17 (March 2017), No. 53

'All in all, Eldridge has provided us with a fuller understanding of the evolution in the postcolonial terrain of memories and by extension, the terrain of identities constitutive of French society, which emerged in reaction to the Algerian War. From Empire toExile will no doubt remain indispensable reading for those interested in the role played by memory in decolonization.'
Professor Sung-Eun Choi, Bentley University, Reviews in History May 2017

'Well constructed and meticulously argued. Highly recommended.'
M. L. Scott, York College of PA, Choice, July 2017

'Overall, Eldridge's study provides consistently thorough and insightful analysis of the underlying factors that shape disputes in France over the commemoration of colonial past and the consequences of the Algerian War. Her study offers a compelling guide to a bitterly contested memorial landscape in contemporary France and the persistently tense conditions of interaction between the state and a range of competing interest groups.'
Hugh Hiscock, University of Liverpool, Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies

'From empire to exile is essential reading on its subject. It is an exemplary illustration of the very best in memory studies - the author consistently engages with questions of who generates memory (her categories of analysis include age, social class, and gender, as well as political persuasion), to what political purposes and material goals different memories are put, and how memory is shaped by a shifting wider context (real or perceived competition from other memories, broader political and social developments, the perceived political efficiency of certain terminology and frameworks). Eldridge also provides key insights into the construction of the French récit national. Contrary to a common vision of this narrative as top-down and 'one and indivisible', she reveals the different levels at which this narrative is formulated and the negotiations and compromises, as well as conflicts, that take place as new elements work their way up into the state's official version.'
Natalya Vince, University of Portsmouth, The Journal of North African Studies, 2017


Claire Eldridge is Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Leeds



Winner of the RHS Gladstone Prize


Part I: The Era of 'Absence', 1962-91
Emergence, 1962-75
1. Creating a community
2. The sounds of silence
Consolidation, 1975-91
3. Creating an identity
4. Breaking the silence
Part II: The 'Return' of the War of Independence, 1991-2012
Acceleration, 1991-2005
5. Hardening attitudes
6. Speaking out
Memory wars, 1999-2012
7. Friends and enemies
8. Champs de bataille

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