Benjamin Stora is undoubtedly one of the best connoisseurs of the history of French colonization in Algeria. His expertise on memorial issues has also earned him the confidence of Emmanuel Macron, who entrusted him with writing a report on colonization (submitted in January 2021), on which the French president relied in the framework of his work on the common past of France and Algeria. On the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the start of the war of independence, on November 1, 1954, the historian examines the questions still raised by the 132 years of French presence in Algeria, and the efforts made on both sides of the Mediterranean, to improve knowledge of this period.
On this day: November 1, 1954, “Toussaint Rouge” marks the beginning of the Algerian War
Young Africa: You sign with Georges-Marc Benamou It was war, a five-part documentary series broadcast on LCP. You say that we cannot understand colonization if we do not tell the story of the bloody conquest, of the dispossession of the lands of the Muslim populations, of the code of the native population… Is the colonial past becoming less taboo? on French TV?
Benjamin Stora: Indeed, there is a story of concealment of this colonization in the public space, in particular on French television. There were fiction films during the period 1962-1992. But they were community films in the sense that each group – the Blackfoot, the anti-colonialists, the ex-military or the immigrants – went to see what made them cry. So there was a set of possible visualizations. On television, things were more complicated. There were small subjects covered by the famous program “Cinq Columns à la Une”, but no major documentaries. The first major documentaries began in 1991, notably with The Algerian years, which I made and which caused controversy. There have been 30 years of silence on the guerre from Algeria.