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In The Ethnographic State: France and the Invention of Moroccan Islam, Edmund Burke does the important work of historicizing colonial-era research on Morocco and Moroccans.
In 2012 a host of commemorative events took place in France to mark the 50th anniversary of Algeria’s independence, an indication for some that decades of imposed silence and reticence on the part of those who experienced the pangs of decolonization were finally drawing to an end.
Algeria was colonised and departmentalised by the French in the 19th century, and by 1954 around a million Algerians of European origin lived in the settler colony. Following a seven-and-a-half-year war against France, Algeria officially became independent in 1962.
Timing counts for so much in publishing and that is never clearer than when a major anniversary approaches. With the centenary of the First World War not yet actually upon us, there has already been a rush of publications. Meanwhile, just as many of the grandest television and radio programmes promised by the BBC have already been aired. Do we know anything we did not know a year or two ago?
This is an excellent overview of German colonialism, constructed with some skill from the scholarship on the colonies, and shaped also by the wider debate on European colonialism and its legacies. It is the best survey of the subject in English to date, and will be welcomed by students and scholars alike.
As the title of the first volume under consideration asserts, France is currently in the grip of a divisive and destabilising phenomenon. Guerres de Mémoires, or wars of memories, are currently wracking the land, calling into question national identity and even challenging the hallowed Republican model.
When I was an undergraduate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the early 1980s, the School had a motto: knowledge is power. Students of a radical inclination would denounce this explicit evocation of the School's imperial origins, and evidently the criticism took its toll.
Deadly Embrace is not only a well-written and thoroughly documented book but also a necessary and vital contribution to the study of the turbulent and often violent first four decades of twentieth century Spain.
Matthew Seligmann's well-researched study of the development of Germany's South African policy in the 1890s is both an in-depth investigation of the motivations behind that policy, and a contribution to the broader debate on German expansionism in the late nineteenth century.