The Rue D'Isly, Algiers, 26 March 1962: The Contested Memorialization of a Massacre



Barclay F (2021) The Rue D'Isly, Algiers, 26 March 1962: The Contested Memorialization of a Massacre. French Politics, Culture and Society, 39 (3), pp. 1-25.

This article examines the memorial discourses surrounding the massacre that occurred on 26 March 1962 when, in the week following the Franco-FLN ceasefire, French soldiers opened fire on a demonstration of unarmed European settler civilians, killing 46 and wounding 150. Largely unknown amongst wider French society, references to the massacre have become a staple of the pied-noir activist discourse of victimhood, often advanced as evidence that they had no choice but to leave Algeria in 1962. The article draws on French and Algerian press articles, as well as online, print, and film publications produced by the repatriated European population. It reveals how settlers' narratives first dehistoricized the massacre and then invested it with a significance that drew on multidirectional memories borrowed from a range of sometimes jarring international contexts. The analysis accounts for why the massacre contributed to the repatriated settler community's sense of identity and relationship to the wider French nation. On Monday 26 March 1962, almost a week after the Evian Accords had put an official end to the Algerian War of Independence, soldiers of the French army opened fire on unarmed civilians from the European population demonstrating on the rue d'Isly in the center of Algiers. Twelve minutes of gunfire left forty-six people dead, and two hundred wounded. Remembered and commemorated by the European settler community, the majority of whom were repatriated to France later that year, the massacre has been otherwise largely forgotten,

Algeria; commemoration; massacre; massacre; pieds-noirs

French Politics, Culture and Society: Volume 39, Issue 3

FundersAHRC Arts and Humanities Research Council
Publication date01/12/2021
Publication date online01/12/2021
Date accepted by journal16/02/2020

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Dr Fiona Barclay

Dr Fiona Barclay

Senior Lecturer, French

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