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Unformatted text preview: Rome and France in Africa: Recovering Colonial Algerias Latin Past Patricia M. E. Lorcin In 1852, the archaeologist-historian Adolphe Dureau de la Malle (1777 1857) admonished his compatriots for their underestimation of French achievements in Algeria during the twenty-two years since their initial landing in Sidi Ferruch, as follows: To counteract the impatience . . . of the French . . . it is perhaps useful to draw attention to the fact Rome took 240 years to transform the area into a titular subject province. . . . May the motto, Perserverando vincit , which encapsulates the prodigious nature of the power of Rome and England, be inscribed on our flags, our public buildings, and in our African colony. 1 The passage is significant for both its content and its timing. First, it conveys the trivalent significance of Rome as a cultural idiom for French domination: justification, admiration, and emulationthree themes that are prevalent in nearly all French accounts of Roman Africa. Second, this observation was made shortly after the occupied territory had been divided into three departments and designated a part of France. The period of uncertainty as to what France should do with Algeria was therefore formally over. But as a part of France, Alge- rias heritage became of subjective relevance. As a region of France, it would inevitably engender some ideological attempt to draw it into the national fold. Patricia Lorcin teaches European and French history at Texas Tech University. Her published works include Imperial Identities (London, 1995) and a number of articles on different aspects of French imperialism. The author thanks Michael Osborne for his comments on the first draft of this article, which was presented at the American Historical Association conference in January 1999, and David Pro- chaska for his pertinent and helpful suggestions. She also thanks the two anonymous readers for this journal. Monsieur J.-P. Ronfard, husband of the late Marie Cardinal and her executor, graciously gave permission to reproduce illustrations from Ms. Cardinals book, Les pieds-noirs (Paris, 1988). 1 Adolphe Dureau de la Malle, Histoire des guerres des Romains, des Byzantins et des Vandales ac- compagne dexamens sur les moyens employs anciennement pour la conqute et la soumission de la portion de lAfrique septentrionale nomme aujourdhui lAlgrie (Paris, 1852), x (my translation). French Historical Studies , Vol. 25, No. 2 (spring 2002) Copyright 2002 by the Society for French Historical Studies Tseng 2002.3.1 16:15 6587 FRENCHHISTORICALSTUDIES25:2SPRING2002 / sheet107of225 296 FRENCH HISTORICAL STUDIES The ruins at Timgad, northeastern Algeria. From Marie Cardinal, Les pieds-noirs (Paris, 1988). Reprinted with permission During their 132 years of domination of Algeria, the French pro- duced a remarkable number of texts on France and Rome in North Africa. The approach varied over time. Early on, the use of classicalAfrica....
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course ANTH 350 taught by Professor Cruz during the Spring '08 term at William & Mary.
- Spring '08