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Creating French Identity in Algeria

This paper is about the French activities in colonial Algeria. Algeria is a North African country that was colonized by the French. The colonial government used various means of administration in order to govern Algerians properly. The French came to Africa during the scramble for and partition of Africa. Most of the European countries like Britain, Germany, Portugal, and Belgium among others scrambled African colonies.

Colonization of these countries was done using various methods like direct rule, indirect rule, and assimilation among very many other methods. The French government used the assimilation policy. This was a policy where the colonizer expects the people in the colony to behave and live like the people of the colonial power.

French government started its colonial activities in Algeria in early 1830, and it came to an end in 1962. This paper aims at analyzing how the French government managed to create their identity in the Algerian colony. It also aims at finding out how the French thought it was their right to own and control Algeria. This was due to existing myths of Latin past in France. The paper further, wants to establish the reason why the French government was keen on controlling the culture of the Algerians, education, and language.


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The paper is going to establish the role that the Latin myths plays in propelling the French government to come into northern Africa and colonize the Algerians. The paper further establishes how these myths dictate the style in which the French colonial government used to administer the Algerian colony. 

The paper approaches the subject matter in two broad sections; the first section is historiography. Historiography is analyzing the reasons behind the French’s desire to set up colonies in African and other historical issues that surround the colonization of Algeria. This part uses secondary sources of data to give an insight of the events that happen earlier on before the French decided to come into Algeria. In this section, the paper is analyzing various sources of information that are vital in enhancing the success of this research.

Algeria was originally occupied by the Romans who managed to occupy most parts of the colony. French government just like other European superpowers was occupying the American colonies. There was a lot of competition among the European nations like Britain, France, and Spain. Each power struggling to outdo the other by occupying the most strategic parts of the world. The myth of Latin leaves France powerless and desperate to get a colony which would boost its national pride. There were many scholars in France like archeologists who wanted to take advantage of good archeological sites in Algeria. This would have enhanced their studies by the archeological sites nurturing their theories.

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The French government finally decided to come to Algeria after consulting widely with various stakeholders.  The colony was strategically located thus meaning that the French’s military activities were going to be undertaken with a lot of ease since the colony facilitated easier means of transport via water.

Algeria was under the French administration for forty years. The foundation of this colony was laid by the government of France. Algeria was the first and the most important colony of France. Many scholars define colonization in different ways, but, the most vital is Colonization is a dominion or control of certain territory individuals or region. Colonization in most cases, is linked to exploitation. This is in the sense that the colonial governments normally subjected the local residents to both social and economic exploitation. On the other hand, imperialism means few people occupying a certain area and taking dominion in it for example French colonized Algeria for 132 years.

France started by occupying Algeria long before colonizing it. Algeria was initially occupied by the Roman Empire. History suggests that there was a strong Rome and France. This is clear when we analyze the resemblance of work by both parties. French occupied Algeria which had a Latin past. This past formed the foundation myth. The colony was established under the myth of Rome.

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Identity establishment process by the French in Algeria is multifaceted and has several features. They include foundation myth elaboration, through use of memory. In Algeria, colonial identity approach took various angles. Rome formed an integral part in the process of France identifying itself in Algeria. According to Jean Francois, Algeria was a desert where Islam had taken root. Therefore, French identity in Algeria was considered as a heroic act of conquest.

The process of France identifying itself in Algeria was complex. Justifying the presence of France in Algeria was not easy as Islam had taken root. The process first required changing the perception of ethnic Muslims in the region. This required a lot of work as their faith wass extremely difficult to change. French used the legacy of Roman in colonizing Algeria for the time period.

France aimed at making sure that its political influence was what mattered most in the colony. The presence of many scholars in Algeria helped in shaping French imperialism in Algeria. In order to understand the terrain, a study was done by the French administrators. This study also aimed at helping France in understanding what the various features they found related to the indigenous people. This study was significant in that it helped the French in knowing what had been formerly referred to as the Roman infrastructure.

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The main reason why France was interested in colonizing Algeria was because of its rich history. There were so many historical as well as archaeological sites, which were used, for studies by French scholars. The cultural differences between France and local individuals made it most difficult for France to rule this colony. Unlike France which had a modern culture, the indigenous people in Algeria had traditional culture.

There were ideological differences between France and Rome. The indigenous population was resistant to French rule. The main problem was its response to the French authority in its territory. The domination of French in Algeria was met by so many difficulties the local people resisted this rule, and it is their resistance that lead to war. By 1898, the completion of the conquest had occurred.

Britain manages to snatch Latin America from the French government. This led to a situation where France had to look for consolation and a mean of restoring its national pride. Algeria was identified as a highly strategic place; it had vast resources that could assist in both archaeological and any aspects of interest to the people of France. It is clear that the existence of the myths of Latin past made France feel that its obligation and right to occupy Algeria. It had lost Latin America and it was looking for a way of asserting its power in Europe where British dominance was on the rise. French colonial government managed to control the culture, language and the education system in Algeria. It interferes with the influence of the Arabian culture which was the usual in Algeria. It advocated for Christianity by terming Islam religion as weak and against Islamic laws. The colonial government sets up its own laws in the colony. It also put military, to ensure law and order in the whole colony. The French administration was against the issue of polygamy as it advocated for monogamy.

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Primary Analysis

This part deals with views of various scholars and researchers as they appear in history books, magazines, newspaper articles, and journals among many other sources. The French rule in Algeria had a lot of consequences on the culture, social settings, economic affairs and even the future political organization. The educational system in Algeria was oriented towards the French. Previously, Algerians had a system of education where the local population could advance in Arabic Literature.

With the wave of colonialism, the French down looked the system and imposed their form of education hence making the system diminish. Dialectical Arabic remained as the major language among the people living in the colonized Algeria and despite this was a language of majority. The French were able to cut it out of the technological advancements in the region. This made the learning of French a necessity among the locals.

The French put up schools in the country that aimed at comparability with the French system and even examined in French. Once again, the French apart from changing the language system, they changed the educational system to their advantage. With time, there arose a class of French speaking natives’ also known as local elites. This group competed with the French in the job and employment sector of the country.

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After colonialism, the country strived to reinstate the indigenous Arabic cultural values and the Islamic culture in an attempt to restrain from the effects of French cultural and social imperialism. This was an aimed at retrieving Arabic language as the country’s national language. The government’s aim was to retrieve the pre-colonial culture and use it to restore and bring up a clear national identity for the new nation.

The French imposed their cultures on the native Africans. Before the colonial period, the native Algerian community had their own cultures based on the Arabic norms. They had Arabic eating methods and put on Islamic pieces of clothing. The onset of French colonialism brought with it a wave of change in the cultural and social ways the people. The traditional Islamic culture of the native people barred women from taking part in leadership.

The post colonialism era saw women taking part in elective political and leadership positions. The native Algerians who lived in the period before colonialism were deeply into the Arabic mode of life. Men ate together separate from the women and children. The system allowed men to have polygamous families. It allowed them to marry many women at same instance.

The information obtained from both the historiography and primary sources helped in the analysis of the situation at hand. French government colonized Algeria for 40 years. Before colonization Algeria was treated as a foreign province of France. From the primary sources, it is evident that the French system was introduced in Algeria and started changing and controlling the flow of events and occurrences.

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Algeria is an Islamic country that practices Islam as their religion; the religious book is the Quran. The French authorities disregarded the sharia laws of the locals. They set up a military which kept law and order by helping the colonial government administer its policies.

The colonial government forced Algerians to convert to Christianity. This issue brought a lot of conflicts between the French administrators and the native Africans. The French had their own ways of maintaining law and order and punishing law breakers; such laws tended to conflict with the Algerian law.

In order to facilitate easy and proper communication in the territory, the colonial governments ensured that the local citizens adhered to the language code. The locals should start using French as their language under the perception that their languages are very inferior and useless

The education systems in Algeria were altered in the sense that the French introduced a system where learning and assessment go hand in hand. This was to ensure that, at the end of the learning process, learners must be able to recall or recite what the content of their studies. This was to give the tutors an avenue to evaluate and gauge their levels of understanding. This task was so tough to the native Africans that they were against it.

The French put up Schools in Algeria to facilitate the learning process. This led to the emergence of a class of French speaking people also known as the local elites. These elites help the French administration in expanding education facilities to various parts of the colony. Another area of concern to native Africans in Algeria was the erosion of their cultures. French policy of assimilation was about changing the cultural beliefs and practices of the locals to reflect the traits of the native citizens of France. Algeria was an Islamic country whose culture was greatly influenced by Arabic traits. They were a group of people who practiced indigenous Arabic cultural practices that formed a subset of the Islamic culture.

Algerians had Arabic eating methods and put on Islamic pieces of clothing. The wave of change was brought about by the French colonization which aimed at changing the cultural and social way of life of the people. The traditional ways of life allowed men to marry as many wives as they may wished. The colonial government introduced Christianity which was against polygamy. The French colonialists pushed their agenda of language change to spread it further.

This language is still in use long after independence of Algeria. Cultural practices are wide that they combine very many aspects including religious practices. The native Algerians are staunch Arabs who practice Islam religion. The coming in of colonial power ensured that extremely many people converted to Christianity. The French considered the Islamic religion as weak; thus struggled to replace it with Christianity.

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The French citizens were initially not aware of the importance of occupying Algeria. The government had to come up with highly strong reasons as to prove its interest. The historiography part of this paper indicates that the capture of Algeria was within the European context, one in which France had lost her military power. The French authorities felt that Algeria would serve to strengthen the feeling of national pride and make up for the loss of the empire. The Latin myths played crucial roles in the colonization of Algeria. France was ejected in North America by other European forces; it was looking for a colonial empire to remark its image and affirm its power in Europe.

The French undermined the native way of life. The fact that they changed almost everything in the country proves that. This is the reasons the natives stood up to fight for their independence. They saw it as if the French were forcing their culture on them and neglecting their native culture. However, in the end the French granted the country independence. This saw the country’s leaders set up strategies to recover the country back to an Arabic Islamic nation.

However, the effects of colonialism never faded and spread to the post colonialism era. The fact that Algerians still consider French as their national language thus using it through the country is an example of such an effect. The government achieved success in accomplishing this by setting up Islamic lessons in all schools. They range from primary level education to university level. This was to make the country get back to its original form before contamination as an Arabic nation with Islamic religion.

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The French designed a policy to civilize the country by imposing their language on the locals. They also introduced their culture to the natives to change the social system to be favorable for their stay. A French report written at the prime of the French colonial era on Algeria indicated that Algerians had a literacy level of over 40 percent. Quran schools were the reason for the high literacy in Algeria.

They learnt and taught in Arabic hence small children had to learn the Quran. Almost half of the schools continued operating even after the colonial era ended. The colonial authorities aimed at changing the language to make it easy to administer its policies in Algeria. The French government put in place particularly many mechanisms in place in order to govern the Africans properly. Their policy of assimilation aimed at making the local citizens in a given colony to behave and live just as native citizens of France. Cultural and social change are the main issues that assimilation policy aimed at eroding and; therefore, it was easy for them to govern a colony with a lot of ease once the local citizens adopted their culture.


This term paper aims at addressing the colonial impact of the French rule in Algeria. Its main mandate is to establish the role played by the loose of the Latin colony in making French government to scramble for Algeria. It is clear from the historiography that European countries colonized most parts of the world earlier on before shifting their attention to the African continent.

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Many colonial governments were able to justify the reasons as to why they had to colonize most parts of the world. France, comes to Algeria for various reasons; these reasons range from strategic issues to getting the resources among many others. As depicted earlier, the colonial government started by identifying Algeria as a potential colony then made an effort to colonize it. It managed to take it from the roman rulers. European forces like Britain, France, and Spain scrambled for the North American colonies; this colonization of the American continent started earlier than the rest parts of the world like Africa.

The paper addresses the concerns of the theme in that it manages to justify the role played by the myths of the Latin past in making the French government colonize Algeria. It also justifies the fact that colonization led to massive changes in the cultural practices and beliefs of the native Algerians. Education and language are two key issues that the assimilation policy of the French colonists managed to control and dominate. Algerians initiated using French in most parts of the country, Christianity comes in and the western education system is introduced and developed in the colony.



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