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Towards an emotional history of settler decolonisation: De Gaulle, political masculinity and the end of French Algeria 1958-1962

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posted on 2023-06-09, 04:36 authored by Martin EvansMartin Evans
This article focuses upon the complex emotional relationship between the settlers and Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle returned to power in May 1958 ostensibly to maintain French Algeria and with the new Fifth Republic many settlers felt emotional and politically secure after four years of conflict. Yet, as de Gaulle’s position shifted in 1959, this article traces the changing emotional landscape of the settlers, examining how they responded to de Gaulle’s pronouncements with a mixture of fear, anxiety and anger. Following this relationship, the article will explore the way in which de Gaulle used television to project a certain image of political masculinity that was rational, detached and objective. In particular, it will foreground how this political masculinity, embodying the higher interests of the French Republic, was seen to stand in opposition to the European settler ‘other’ - irrational, unrealistic, driven by narrow, selfish interests. Here specific emphasis will be given to the January 1960 crisis, when the settlers rebelled against the dismissal of General Massu. This will be interpreted as a crystallising moment in this ‘othering’ of the settlers, which then became a key part of de Gaulle’s decolonisation rationale. In conclusion the article will place these findings within the framework of the notion of settler colonialism advanced by Lorenzo Veracini. It will show how the understanding of the emotional history of the settler presence deepens our understanding of the specific dynamics of settler colonialism, in particular the complex and shifting triangular relationships between the Metropole, the settlers and the indigenous populations which, it will be argued, must always be placed within an international framework. As such the article will make a general contribution to the field, opening up a connected and comparative history of the emotional dynamics of other settler colonial societies as well as the decolonisation process in general.


Publication status

  • Published

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  • Accepted version


Settler Colonial Studies




Taylor & Francis





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Department affiliated with

  • Art History Publications

Research groups affiliated with

  • The Middle East and North Africa Centre at Sussex Publications

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