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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Producing Eurafrica: Development, Agriculture and Race in Algeria, 1958-1965
by Davis, Muriam Haleh, Ph.D., New York University, 2015, 325; 3716507
Abstract (Summary)

The Algerian war of independence (1954-1962) was one of the most violent wars of decolonization in the twentieth century. Yet along with military repression, the technocratic spirit of the Fifth Republic also played a key role in France's struggle against the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). In 1958 French President Charles de Gaulle announced a comprehensive program to develop Algeria socially and economically, known as the Constantine Plan. This dissertation argues that these development initiatives were a means of producing a Eurafrican space. Given the pressures of European integration and anti-colonial nationalism, planners sought to delineate a supranational space of interaction that would ensure French influence. Drawing on archival material from Algeria, France, and Italy, this thesis also claims that the postwar reconfiguration of empire sought to transform Homo Islamicus into Homo Econmicus. As biological racism was increasingly untenable in the postwar period, planners viewed Islam to be culturally resistant to the modernizing flows of a market economy, even if it was potentially amenable to reform.

French economists conceived of the Constantine Plan as a self-conscious break with older traditions of economic development. At the same time, planners used the discipline of territorial planning (aménagement du territoire) in order to recognize the specificity of the "Algerian personality" while inscribing this difference in a politically centralized entity. The question of spatial scale was also addressed in studies on the Saharan Desert and Mediterranean Sea, consistent with the objectives of the Constantine Plan. While the promise of oil drew planners to the Sahara, the modernization of agriculture was also an ideological touchstone of development. The proposed creation of a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provided an important impetus for the standardization of crops such as olive oil and wine, which could then be exported on the European common market. After 1962 the Constantine Plan influenced negotiations between Algeria and the European Economic Community, the policy of Franco-Algerian Cooperation, and the "specifically Algerian socialism" of Algerian President Ahmed Ben Bella. Algerian planners were both trying to develop a national economy and reconfigure its relationship to France, Europe, and the rest of the world. Focusing on the Algerian case, this dissertation argues that planning was fundamental to the national self-conceptions and economic thinking that came to define the postcolonial era.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cooper, Frederick, Lockman, Zachary
Commitee: Appuhn, Karl, Goldberg, David T., Shepard, Todd
School: New York University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 76/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African history, North African Studies
Keywords: Agriculture, Algeria, Decolonization, Europe, European integration, Race
Publication Number: 3716507
ISBN: 978-1-321-95393-0
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