A Postcolonial Anarchive, or When Literature Made History: Franco-Algerian Narratives of October 17, 1961


ACLS Fellowship Program


French and Francophone Studies


“A Postcolonial Anarchive” examines the literary, cinematic, and other visual representations of the massacre of Algerian protesters in Paris on October 17, 1961, at the height of the Algerian war for independence. As holds true for many episodes of historical trauma, for October 17, scholarship has primarily focused on what was known, when, and by whom. This project’s focus, however, is trained not on questions of fact but rather on the function, aesthetics, and stakes of representation, a gesture that acknowledges the crucial role played by cultural texts in the transmission of historical knowledge and subjective experience. Mobilizing both literary and historical documents as primary sources, this study advocates for an understanding of this variegated collection of works as a coherent corpus (an anarchive) that may offer a partial corrective to contemporary France’s historical amnesia, and that functions as a crucial missing swath in the fabric of a national narrative.