Crown Center for Middle East Studies

What’s So Colonial About Colonial Rule? Violence and Authoritarianism in French Algeria

A Crown Seminar with Adria Lawrence

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Missed the seminar? The recording is available with closed captioning.

Colonial rule seems different from other forms of governance, and it has enduring legacies. Persistent problems of underdevelopment, state weakness, authoritarianism, and violence have been attributed to colonial interventions. In this talk, Adria Lawrence will draw on the first half-century of French rule in Algeria (1830-1880) to consider what made colonial rule distinctive. While other scholars have emphasized explicit colonial strategies, such as direct and indirect rule, she will focus on the use of violence during the colonial era in order to show how the ability of the French to carry out their stated policy aims in Algeria was limited. It was shaped not only by Algerian resistance, but also by deep divides among the French themselves over how to govern Algeria. There was in fact a difference between what colonial powers said they were doing in their empire, and what they actually did. A focus on how colonial rule actually operated within conquered states is helpful for understanding the legacies of this era.

Adria Lawrence is the Aronson Associate Professor of International Studies and Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.
Alex Boodrookas, discussant, is the Harold Grinspoon Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center.

Co-sponsored by the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies program and Department of Politics at Brandeis.