Decolonization, Health Care, and Humanitarianism in Algeria

with Jennifer Johnson

hosted by Chris Gratien, Zoe Griffith, and Nora Lessersohn

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The Algerian War is perhaps the most recognizable national and anti-colonial movement of the 20th century. From the iconic film “The Battle of Algiers” to Frantz Fanon's influential book The Wretched of the Earth, the violence of the Algerian fight for independence and the French reaction has marked depictions of not only the war but representations of Algerian history on the whole. In this podcast, however, we explore another battlefield of contention during the Algerian War: medicine and humanitarian relief. As our guest Jennifer Johnson demonstrates in her new monograph The Battle for Algeria (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), both the French government and the Algerian National Liberation Front used medicine and public health as a tactic, and the presence of humanitarian organizations in Algeria as well rendered the war not just a national struggle but in fact an international affair.

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Jennifer Johnson is an Assistant Professor of History at Brown University. She received her PhD from Princeton University. Her main research interests are 20th century Africa, specifically the Maghrib, nationalism, decolonization, and public health. She is the author of The Battle for Algeria: Sovereignty, Health Care, and Humanitarianism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). She is currently working on a book project which examines the relationship between public health and state-building in postcolonial North Africa.
Chris Gratien holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown University's Department of History and is currently an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. His research focuses on the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. He is currently preparing a monograph about the environmental history of the Cilicia region from the 1850s until the 1950s.
Zoe Griffith is a doctoral candidate in History at Brown University working on political economy and governance in Egypt and the Ottoman Mediterranean. Zoe is a co-curator of the OHP series on legal history in the Ottoman Empire and Islamic world.   
Nora Lessersohn is a Ph.D. student in History and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.  Her work focuses on Ottoman Armenians in Anatolia, Istanbul, and the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. 


Episode No. 277
Release Date: 31 October 2016
Recording Location: Brown University
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Sound excerpts: from - Baglamamin Dugumu - Necmiye Ararat and MuzafferHarmandali - Recep Efendi, Cemal EfendiKatibim (Uskudar'a Gider iken) - Safiye Ayla; from Excavated Shellac- Lili Labassi - Mazal Haye Mazal
Special thanks to Kara Güneş for allowing us to use the composition "Istanbul" in the intro and outro music
Images and bibliography courtesy of Jennifer Johnson


"Algerian doctors treating civilians during the war for national liberation."
Source: Archives Nationales d'Outre-Mer; courtesy of Jennifer Johnson

The Battle for Algeria
by Jennifer Johnson
UPenn Press, 2015
El Moudjahid (newspaper)

Mouloud Feraoun, Journal, 1955-1962: Reflections on the French-Algerian War (Nebraska UP, 2000).

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Grove Press, 1965).

Matthew Connelly, A Diplomatic Revolution (Oxford UP, 2002).

Jeffrey James Byrne, Mecca of Revolution: Algeria, Decolonization, and the Third World Order (Oxford UP, 2016).

Fabian Klose, Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence: The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria (Penn Press, 2013).

Todd Shepard, The Invention of Decolonization (Cornell, 2006).

Gilbert Meynier, Histoire intérieure du FLN, 1954-1962 (Paris: Fayard, 2002).

Mohammed Harbi and Gilbert Meynier, eds. Le FLN, documents et histoire, 1954-1962 (Paris: Fayard, 2004).

Mohammed Harbi, Le FLN: Mirage et réalité (Paris: Éditions Jeune Afrique, 1980).

_____, ed. Les archives de la Révolution Algérienne (Paris: Éditions Jeune Afrique, 1981).

Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria, 1954-1962 (New York: Viking, 1978).


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