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    Ethnography

    DOI: 10.1177/14661381040506922004; 5; 445Ethnography

    Pierre Bourdieu and Abdelmalek SayadColonial rule and cultural sabir

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    Colonial rule and cultural sabir

    Pierre Bourdieu

    Collge de France

    Abdelmalek Sayad

    Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris, France

    Translated and adapted by Loc Wacquant, Richard Nice,

    and Tarik Wareh

    A B S T R A C T The French policy of resettlement of Algerian peasants,

    designed to undercut popular support for the nationalist war of liberation

    (195462), led to the displacement of one-fourth of the indigenous

    population of Algeria in 1960. By disciplining space and rigidly

    reorganizing the life of the fellahin under the sign of the uniform, the

    French military hoped to tame a people, but it only completed what early

    colonial policy and the generalization of monetary exchanges had started:

    the depeasantization of agrarian communities stripped of the social and

    cultural means to make sense of their present and get hold of their future.

    The devolution of the traditional way of life fostered by forced

    resettlement was redoubled by urbanization, which caused irreversible

    transformations in economic attitudes at the same time as it accelerated

    the contagion of needs, plunging the uprooted individuals into a

    traditionalism of despair suited to daily survival in conditions of extreme

    uncertainty. War thus accomplished the latent intention of colonial policy,

    which is to disintegrate the indigenous social order in order to

    subordinate it, whether it be under the banner of segregation or

    assimilation. But imperial domination also produces a new type of subject

    containing within himself or herself the contradictions born of the clash ofcivilizations: the patterns of behavior and economic ethos imported by

    colonization coexist inside of the exiled Algerian peasant with those

    graphyCopyright 2004 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi)

    www.sagepublications.com Vol 5(4): 445486[DOI: 10.1177/1466138104050692]

    A R T I C L E

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    inherited from ancestral tradition, fostering antinomic conducts,

    expectations, and aspirations. This double-sidedness of objective and

    subjective reality threatened to undermine the efforts to socialize

    agriculture after independence, as the logic of decolonization inclined theeducated petty bourgeoisie of bureaucrats to magically deny the

    contradictions of reality as shameful ghosts of a dead colonial past rather

    than strive to overcome them through an educative and political action

    guided by an adequate knowledge of the real condition of the peasantry

    and subproletariat of the emerging Algerian nation.

    K E Y W O R D S colonialism, war, peasantry, uprooting, space, despair,

    agriculture, revolution, French imperialism, Kabyle culture, Algeria

    God had given to the crow, who was at that time white, two bags: one filledwith gold, the other full of lice.

    The crow gave the bag full of lice to the Algerians and the bag filled withgold to the French.

    It is from then that he has become black.(Oral tradition collected at LArba)

    Of all the disruptions that rural Algerian society underwent between 1955and 1962, those brought about by population resettlements (regroupe-ments) are, without any doubt, the most profound and the most fraughtwith long-term consequences. In a first phase, the displacements were tiedto the creation of forbidden zones. From 1954 to 1957, a number ofpeasants had been quite simply chased out of their villages; it is especiallysince 1957 that, in certain regions, North-Constantine for example, thepolicy of resettlement took a methodical and systematic form. According

    to an official directive, the foremost objective of the forbidden zones wasto empty out a region not under control and to withdraw the populationfrom rebel influence. The massive resettlement of populations in centerslocated near military installations was supposed to allow the army toexercise a direct control over them, to prevent them from giving infor-mation, guidance, fresh supplies, or lodging to the soldiers of the NationalLiberation Army (ALN);1 it was also supposed to facilitate the conduct ofoperations of repression by authorizing the consideration of any personwho remained in the forbidden zones as a rebel. In the near totality of

    cases, the expulsion was carried out by force. At first, the army seems tohave applied systematically, at least in the Collo region, a scorched-earthtactic: burnings of forests, annihilation of reserves and livestock every

    Ethnography 5(4)446

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    means was used to force the peasants to abandon their land and their

    homes:

    Of course, it would have taken us too much time to demolish the forbid-den meshtas [hamlets] of the sector, but finally the job was accomplishedvery tidily over four or five square kilometers. First the men climbed ontothe roofs and threw the tiles onto the ground, while others broke the pots,jars, and unbroken tiles. . . . At the end of the day, this technique, a littleslow, had been perfected: stores of wood and branches were crammed intothe houses and set on fire; in general, the frames did not hold out and theroofs collapsed quite quickly. All that was left was to put on a few finishingtouches with a club. (Talbo-Bernigaud, 1960: 719)

    In spite of everything, the populations put up a furious resistance.2

    Bourdieu and Sayad Colonial rule and cultural sabir 447

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    us today and that will permit us perhaps to take possession of its spirit aftertaking possession of its body.

    (Captain Charles Richard, tude sur linsurrection du Dahra, 18456)

    Im from Lorraine, I love straight lines. The people here, theyre on bad termswith the straight line.

    (Lieutenant from Kerkera, 1960)

    Of all the economic and social measures decided within the framework ofpacification, the resettlement of rural populations is without doubt thatwhich is most clearly inscribed in the wake of the great land laws of the19th century, namely, chiefly the Quartering Act (18567), the senatus-consultum of 1863, and the Warnier Act of 1873. What is really striking

    indeed is that, though separated by an interval of a century, faced with iden-tical situations the functionaries in charge of enforcing the senatusconsultumand the officers responsible for the resettlements resorted to similar measures.

    Whether it cynically confessed itself to be a war machine6 capable ofdisorganizing the tribe seen as the main obstacle to pacification, orwhether it claimed to follow an assimilationist ideology more generous inintention, the agrarian policy tending to transform jointly held property intoindividual goods contributed strongly to disintegrating the traditional socialunits by shattering an economic equilibrium for which tribal or clanproperty constituted the best protection, at the same time as it facilitatedthe concentration of the best land into the hands of the European coloniststhrough the game of permits and indiscriminate sales. The great land lawshad the patent function of establishing the conditions favorable to thedevelopment of a modern economy founded on private enterprise and indi-vidual property, with juridical integration being held as the indispensableprecondition for the transformation of the econo

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