Sylvie Thénault

The Hidden Side of Colonial Algeria Camps, administrative internment, house arrest Publication date : January 5, 2012

Sylvie Thénault is a research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and at the Centre d’Histoire Sociale du 20ème Siècle.

At the time of the Algerian insurrection which led to the War of Independence, the subject of concentration camps was still very much in the news. The Second World War had just ended and denunciations of the Soviet gulag were beginning to be heard.
In 1955, the French government retaliated to the insurrection with a law allowing it to decree a state of emergency in its Algerian colony. The French Parliament specified that this in no way allowed the creation of detention camps. And yet camps did come into existence, illegally and wrapped in lies.
This book traces the history of France’s extensive use of internment camps throughout the colonial period. What were these camps like? Why were they used? Who were the victims? What part did internment camps play in maintaining French control over its colonised populations?

• France’s colonial past in Algeria remains a subject of debate.
• This book not only denounces the brutality of the colonial authorities at various critical moments; it also reveals the logic behind the repressive colonial system, with its constant use of internment.
• This crucial addition to the specific record of French colonialism clearly demonstrates that U.S. abuses in Guantánamo are scarcely unprecedented.