Going beyond the 'guerre des mémoires' in theatrical representations of the Algerian War



Barclay F (2023) Going beyond the 'guerre des mémoires' in theatrical representations of the Algerian War. Modern and Contemporary France.

This article examines the ‘guerre des mémoires’ that has defined the memorial landscape surrounding the Algerian War and seen it mired it in a competitive memory dynamic that Benjamin Stora (2007) terms ‘une surenchère victimaire’. It argues that since the fiftieth anniversary of independence in 2012 there are signs of attempts to move beyond the impasse. Drawing on the work of Jacques Rancière, Chantal Mouffe and Anna Cento Bull, the article examines two recent plays that adopt contrasting approaches to the aim of representing conflicting experiences of the war. Et le coeur fume encore (2019) features elements of Rancerian thought, emphasising the multiplicity of conflicting experiences, and interrupting viewer empathy through distancing techniques that disengage actor from character to defer empathetic engagement until the full complexity of post-war experience is made available. In contrast, Les Pieds tanqués (2012) works to create an entente between audience and characters that emphasises not only division but also the culture and humour that unites protagonists from different backgrounds.

Modern and Contemporary France

StatusIn Press
FundersAHRC Arts and Humanities Research Council
Publication date online30/11/2023
Date accepted by journal28/09/2023

People (1)


Dr Fiona Barclay

Dr Fiona Barclay

Senior Lecturer, French