Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Christine Moritz

Second Faculty Sponsor

Jacob Melish


This paper expands our understanding of colonialism by analyzing the experiences of two French colonists in Algeria and how they were affected by colonialism, Algerian culture, and Independence in 1962. France occupied Algeria for 132 years, so that by Independence, there were more than one million people of French descent in the country. After Algeria claimed its independence, these French citizens, who called themselves “Pieds-Noirs” (black feet), were forced to repatriate to France, a country many had never seen.

This research compared and analyzed two autobiographies, Ma mère l’Algérie by Jean Pélégri and Hier est proche d’aujourd’hui by Jeanne Cheula, using the theoretical approach, “hybridity.” Pélégri was born in Algeria to a farming family. Jeanne Cheula was married to a French government official and moved to Algeria in 1926. This paper argues that colonialism transformed not only the colonized; it also transformed the colonists because they were forced to grow up in a radically different society than that of France. The effects of this transformation endured until long after the French-Algerians were forced to move “back” to France. Thus, colonialism was about more than just colonists functioning as the homogenous product and purveyor of a colonial power’s policy, it was also about how the colonists themselves were transformed by their host culture – in this case, Algeria – and by colonialism, which continued long after French colonial rule ended in Algeria in 1962.

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