Speculation and the Colonial Landscape
This chapter considers the debates between colonialists and anticolonialists over Algerian colonization. Advocates of settlement argued from an almost blind faith in Algeria's fabulous fecundity, while opponents denounced the soil as barren. The arguments of anticolonialists quickly lost traction, however, and colonialists' claims about the great beauty and fertility of the land gained a nearly unimpeachable position in the French imagination. When early colonization efforts failed to realize the land's legendary wealth, they blamed the inhabitants, rather than the soil itself: indigenous Algerians' ignorance and indolence prevented them from cultivating the land properly, while early European immigrants' shortsighted greed led them to eschew agricultural labor in favor of speculative investment in petty commerce and land.
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