The Cultural Origins of French Algeria
This introductory chapter begins with a brief discussion of France's invasion and colonization of Algeria starting in the 1830s. It then sets out the book's central argument, that the roots of French Algeria lay in contests over political legitimacy sparked by the Atlantic revolutions of the eighteenth century. The crisis of colonial legitimacy resulting from the Haitian Revolution as well as the crisis of political legitimacy engendered by the French Revolution pushed forward the processes of military conquest and settlement colonization that made Algeria not just a French colony, but ultimately part of France itself. The book seeks to explain the policy choices that led France back onto the colonial stage between 1830 and 1848. It also aims to understand how contemporary culture shaped the processes of military conquest and settler colonization that made Algeria French. Together, these questions provide an understanding of why the founding of France's most important modern colony took place when and how it did.
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