Violent Erasures: Atrocity, Photographic Archives and the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62)

Katarzyna Falęcka


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This paper examines the role of photographic archives from the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62) in the formation of the conflict’s legacy in France. It argues that while acts of extreme violence enacted by the French military upon Algerian insurgents were under-represented, these blind spots should not be discarded as unproductive sites for writing histories of visual culture. Instead, they can be seen as indicative of the restrictions placed on photographic production during the war, as well as on its afterlives in national archives and collections. Following the transportation of archives from Algeria to France after the Évian accords in 1962, which ended the 132-years-long colonial rule, access to these documents became restricted. While the majority of archives were made public 50 years after the conflict had ended, some of the most sensitive documents still remain outside of the public’s view due to longer delays. These occlusions have structured the conflict’s (in)visibility in the French public sphere following the end of the war. By taking the 2012 issue of Manière de voir-Le Monde Diplomatique, which revisits the conflict through historical imagery and contemporary photography by Bruno Boudjelal, this paper analyses the cultural, social and political processes which control vision itself.




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