West Virginia University Historical Review


The colonial relationship between France and French Algeria reached its boiling point during the Algerian War of Independence in 1954 after more than a century of French imperial subjugation. Before this pivotal year, French Algeria was required to support France through two total and primarily European wars. While Algerians believed that such a sacrifice for their imperial mother nation was cause for equality under French law, France was committed to the continued oppression of its colony. This essay argues that French Algeria’s contribution to the French war effort during the First and Second World Wars served as a catalyst to the rising Algerian nationalist sentiment that reached its peak in 1954. Through an in–depth examination of the colonial legacy in French Algeria, this paper aims to establish a pattern of exploitation, manipulation, and intransigence throughout France’s imperial administration of the region. Moreover, a thorough analysis of the various factions and leaders of Algerian nationalism demonstrates an intensifying demand for independence from France after the First and Second World Wars. By studying the history of Algeria’s continued oppression under France despite attempts at compromise as the root of Algerian nationalists’ fervor, the significance of the colonial legacy upon modern international relations and the imbalance of power within the world system becomes evident. The present tumultuous relationship between France and Algeria is a direct result of France’s unwillingness to relinquish its colony with an acknowledgement of French Algeria’s vital role during the First and Second World Wars, instead mounting a violent counterinsurgency against the region’s ambition for independence.

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