Orr, Kevin (2008) Memory, Knowledge and Resistance: the impact of the Algerian War on French thought. In: Discourse, Power and Resistance 7: cultures in resistance, 18th – 20th March 2008, Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

The Algerian War of independence (1954-1962) led directly to the fall of six French prime ministers, an attempted military coup and the collapse of the Fourth Republic. It lasted longer than the Vietnam War and involved as many conscripted soldiers.
The fight against Algerian independence was justified in France by evoking socialism, modernisation and even humanism, and until the 1980s the savagery and scale of the war was largely hidden. Despite the lived experience of hundreds of thousands of French conscripts, and the resistance not only of Algerians but of many French, the powers in France consciously constructed a truth about Algeria, and so closed down memory.
This paper will argue that the Algerian War and how it was experienced, reported and remembered profoundly affected a generation of influential French intellectuals and how they consider the construction of knowledge, truth and power. This group includes Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Deleuze and Bourdieu, who all had some connection with Algeria, and whose subsequent writing carries the discernible imprint of the war.

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