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In France, Algerian colonization is struggling to find a place in school curricula

“The historian and memories of the Algerian war. “ This subject fell in 2016 and in 2018 at the bac, in the ES and L series. Proof that these events are not taboo in school programs. However, this question, taken from the chapter dealing with the “relationship of societies to their past”, was then optional. Teachers had the choice of studying memories of the Second World War or those of the Algerian War. Most of them preferred to devote themselves to the war of 1939-1945, which was more familiar to them.

History and geography teacher in a high school on the outskirts of Lille (North), Nejwa Mimouni was thus the only one in her establishment, among a dozen teachers in the discipline, to deal with Algerian decolonization. “Perhaps on the second world war, the work of historian was done and digested, while on the war in Algeria, nobody is really at ease”, she suggests.

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The high school reform, which will take full effect with the 2021 bac, has once again reshuffled the history programs. In the common core of first general, “The particular case of Algeria” is part of a chapter on colonization. In general, “The Algerian crisis of the French Republic and the birth of a new regime” are included in a chapter on France in the world after 1945, with the mention of “The Algerian war and its memories”.

A “diluted” question

It is in the specialty “history-geography, geopolitics and political science”, chosen by a quarter of the students, that the question is tackled in more depth. In the technological sector, “Live in Algiers at the beginning of the XXe century “ and the Algerian war are among the subjects of study left to the choice of teachers. The Franco-Algerian question is today “Diluted in larger themes”, considers Laurence De Cock, historian and author of In the white man’s class. The teaching of colonialism from the 1980s to the present day (Lyon University Press, 2018).

In middle school, Algeria can be mentioned as an example to illustrate colonization, in fourth grade, or decolonization, in third grade, without being assigned a full chapter. What makes Kamel Chabane, professor of history in a Parisian college, say that “The time allotted to colonization and decolonization, particularly in Algeria, is not up to the traces they have left in our societies”.

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