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History of the Algerian Diaspora in France Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 23rd, 2020

The history of Algerian diaspora in France goes back to 1827 when France barricaded Algiers for around three years. This period heralded the colonization era because by 1848, the French had taken control of almost the entire northern Algeria before announcing that the occupied areas were part of France (Bennoune, 2002). Colonization facilitated the earliest migration of Algerians to France. This paper focuses on the history of the Algerian diaspora in France by focusing on other aspects apart from the Algerian War.

From the early late 19th Century, cheap labor was highly needed in factories in France. Therefore, male Algerians moved in huge numbers to bridge the workforce deficit. The entire Algeria became an extension of France, and all the Algerians became French nationals. Therefore, before independence in 1962, Algerians were only allowed to migrate to France. By 1924, the number of documented Algerians in France surpassed 100,000 (MacMaster, 1997).

However, during the World War II, the numbers reduced as the French authorities feared that Algerians would be prone to the communist manifesto, and thus the majorities were sent back to Algeria. The number of Algerians living in France has never gone below 100,000 apart from this incidence during the Second World War.

Before the end of the Second World War in 1945, the migration of Algerians to France was exclusively for male workers. This movement, which was occasioned by the need for cheap labor in French industries, is regarded as the “first stage” of the Algerian diaspora in France (MacMaster, 1997). This migration was temporary, as Algerian men sought to improve the living conditions of their families back in Algeria.

After the Second World War, the French government passed the Statute of Algeria in 1947, which “granted Algerian men full citizenship in mainland France and instituted unregulated passage between Algeria and France” (Sessions, 2015, p. 113). This period marked the “second stage” of the Algerian diaspora in France. After becoming citizens, Algerian men brought their wives and children to live in France. Similarly, nuclear families started trooping in following the unregulated movement between the two countries. By 1956, the number of Algerians immigrants in France had increased to 300,000 (MacMaster, 1997). Unfortunately, the living conditions for most immigrants were poor due to wage and class disparities in the society at the time.

After Algeria gained independence in 1962, Algerians enjoyed a window of freedom where they could move to France with ease. Therefore, by 1965, the Algerian population in France had grown to 0.5 million (MacMaster, 1997).

The last group of Algerian immigrants in France was marked by the mass movement of Algerian soldiers working in French security forces in 1962. Over 100,000 such individuals were allowed to live in France for fear of repression and oppression by nationalist sympathizers in Algeria (MacMaster, 1997). Later, different small groups of individuals were allowed to move to France for refuge from the isolated civil conflicts involving the government and radical Islamists.

However, regardless of the nature of the movement of Algerians to France, the majority of the immigrants lived under squalid conditions. Most Algerians lived in shantytowns, which were commonly known as “bidonvilles” (MacMaster, 1997). During the Algerian War, most immigrants in France were oppressed, and some killed for allegedly being supporters of the quest for emancipation back in their native country. Currently, getting a visa in Algeria to travel to France is a complex process. Consequently, the majority of jobless Algerians cannot move abroad for greener pastures.

References

Bennoune, M. (2002). The Making of Contemporary Algeria, 1830-1987. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

MacMaster, N. (1997). Colonial Migrants and Racism: Algerians in France, 1900-62. London, UK: Macmillan Press Ltd.

Sessions, J. E. (2015). By sword and plow: France and the conquest of Algeria. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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IvyPanda. "History of the Algerian Diaspora in France." September 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-the-algerian-diaspora-in-france/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "History of the Algerian Diaspora in France." September 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-the-algerian-diaspora-in-france/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'History of the Algerian Diaspora in France'. 23 September.

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