Ranjana Khanna. Algeria Cuts: Women and Representation, 1830 to the Present. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2008. Reviewed by Jennifer Boittin (The Pennsylvania State University) Published on H-French-Colonial (April, 2011)
Women, Violence, Trauma, and Hope in Algerian and French History
Scholars of the French Empire who teach Algeria, France, and the manner in which their histories have collided, meshed, and interlocked since 1830, often rely upon certain primary sources. These include Assia Djebar’s writings, such as Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade (1985), a book that like Ranjana Khanna’s Algeria Cuts: Women and Representation, 1830 to the Present intersperses history with poetic narration, past with present, written with oral sources, and national with personal memories. Another such source is Gillo Pontecorvo’s film The Battle of Algiers (1966), including the striking and oft-cited scene in which three Algerian women Europeanize themselves before crossing checkpoints in Algiers and planting bombs amidst the colons, or European settlers. Scholars also gravitate towards Simone de Beauvoir and the lawyer Gisèle Halimi’s accounts during the Algerian War of Independence of how the young Djamila Boupacha was tortured and raped with a bottle by French police officers in Algiers.
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