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the two fronts of the archival battle

Archives, mined file. The Franco-Algerian memory inevitably comes up against this obstacle, the source of all the tensions. Litigation encompasses two disputes of a different nature – diplomatic and scientific – which intersect without overlapping. The first, which concerns the ownership of archives, has never ceased to invite itself into the bilateral relationship with Algeria claiming the “Restitution” documents that she considers her own. The second, which refers to the accessibility of these archives, feeds recurring tensions between each State and historians, hampered in their research by heavy imperatives of confidentiality. In the French case, the controversy is raging, while an increasingly picky application of the top secret contradicts official statements on a wider ” opening “ archives of colonization and the Algerian war.

When France left Algeria in 1962, it repatriated to metropolitan France around 10 linear kilometers of documents, mainly stored at the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer (Anom), in Aix-en-Provence, by virtue of a score inspired by the precedent of the end of French Indochina. According to this rule, Paris keeps in its possession the so-called “sovereignty” archives (political and sovereign), while the so-called “management” archives (cadastre, taxation, information relating to the economy, infrastructure) are left to the new State. , town planning, health, education, etc.).

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Restitution to Algiers was made in a second step. Thus the so-called “Ottoman” archives (dating from before the conquest of 1830) that France had recovered. ” for security reasons “ and for their “Great historical interest”, but in violation of the spirit of the score which it claimed. These funds will be handed over to Algerians in several waves (1967, 1975, 1981 and 2001). In addition, in 1981 and 1985 Paris retroceded archive segments from “Management” (hydraulic works, public works), repatriated by mistake in the confusion surrounding his departure from Algeria.

Claim in principle

For the Algerian government, these refunds remain very insufficient. Because he challenges the merits of the sovereignty-management diptych imposed by the French, which in his eyes has no legal value. Algiers in fact calls for the 1983 Geneva Convention, which essentially stipulates that archives created in a territory must remain in place after independence. Consequently, the Algerians demand the “Full return of the originals” documents continuing to escape them, namely the “sovereignty” archives repatriated to France. The director of the Algerian archives, Abdelmadjid Chikhi, admitted in an interview with World that documents falling within the “Security of France in the world” could possibly be discussed ” case by case “, but without compromising on the rest of the archives.

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