Andrea Brazzoduro: Experiences and Memories of French and Algerian Veterans
Experiences and Memories of French and Algerian Veterans
As Marie Curie Research Fellow I’m currently working on my new book, which aims to investigate the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962) from a new perspective. I propose to frame a transnational history of the war, which goes beyond both the (opposing) French and Algerian (national) narratives and resituate the war in its Mediterranean, European, and eventually its global contexts. This general research objective, however, will be achieved by using a microhistorical approach: instead of looking at the conflict as a generic “whole” and examining its reverberations in an elusive “collective memory”, the project focuses on a specific region, the Aurès in the Algerian south-east. At the core of this project are the specific experiences and memories of French and Algerian veterans who fought each other for eight years in this mountainous, Berberophone area. Who were they? What kind of war were they fighting, and why? And fifty years after the ceasefire, how do the citizens of each country cope with their combat memories? A fuller understanding of the war requires a marriage of both global and local scales of analysis, paying attention simultaneously to the global connections and significance of the Algerian revolution and France’s Cold War counter-insurgency on the one hand, and to the complex, often very divisive, local experience of the war for Algerian men, women, and children on the other. Inseparable from such rewriting is critical attention to the construction and voicing of individual, familial, and local memories and memorialisations (and the concomitant forgetting, or silences) of the war, and its key role in social memory in Algeria and France since 1962. Less than “collective memory”, what is at stake here is a genealogy of the present—both in Algeria and France—by means of an investigation into the social frames of memory.
Andrea Brazzoduro is a historian, based at the University of Oxford. He is currently a Marie Skłodowska Curie Research Fellow in the Faculty of History and a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College. Andrea graduated from the University of Rome with a focus on the cultural and intellectual history of the Algerian War of Independence. During his PhD, which he complete at the Universities of Rome and Paris, he came to focus on contemporary social frames of memory, particularly regarding French veterans. In so doing he joined the Institut d’histoire du temps présent (Paris). Following this, he held fellowships at École des hautes études en sciences sociale (Paris), Maison méditerranéenne de sciences de l’homme (Aix-en-Provence), and Centre d’histoire sociale du XXe siècle (Paris). Besides many scientific articles and chapters, Andrea is the author of the monograph Soldati senza causa. Memorie della guerra d’Algeria (Laterza 2012). His research interests include: Twentieth-century French history (4th & 5th Republic, colonialism and decolonization), history of representations and social uses of the past (memory studies, oral history, and epistemology), and postcolonial critique (with a particular focus on the Mediterranean, and the relationships between France, Algeria, and Italy in the past and in the present).