This month, Stanford University Press will publish The Civilizing Mission in the Metropole: Algerian Families and the French Welfare State During Decolonization by Amelia H. Lyons (University of central Florida). The publisher’s description follows.
France, which has the largest Muslim minority community in Europe, has been in the news in recent years because of perceptions that Muslims have not integrated into French society. The Civilizing Mission in the Metropole explores the roots of these debates through an examination of the history of social welfare programs for Algerian migrants from the end of World War II until Algeria gained independence in 1962.
After its colonization in 1830, Algeria fought a bloody war of decolonization against France, as France desperately fought to maintain control over its most prized imperial possession. In the midst of this violence, some 350,000 Algerians settled in France. This study examines the complex and often-contradictory goals of a welfare network that sought to provide services and monitor Algerian migrants’ activities. Lyons particularly highlights family settlement and the central place Algerian women held in French efforts to transform the settled community. Lyons questions myths about Algerian immigration history and exposes numerous paradoxes surrounding the fraught relationship between France and Algeria—many of which echo in French debates about Muslims today.