On the Spaces of Guerre Moderne: The French Army in Northern Algeria (1954–1962)
The French Colonial War of Anti-Algerian Independence (1954–1962) is widely regarded as the precursor of civil-military counterinsurgency operations, and thereby of the rhetorical Global War on Terror of today. Its theories, known as the guerre moderne, were secretly transferred to North and South America in the sixties. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, however, the United States and other Western powers have overtly expressed their interest in French military practices in Algeria, but seldom in the fields of architecture and territorial planning.
This article examines the intrinsic relationships between the doctrines of the guerre moderne, the resultant built environments, and the socio-economic consequences of the two over the course of the French war in Algeria. It considers two major timeframes: first, the years between 1954 and 1958, which were characterised by the extraordinary fusion of civil and military authorities, and the construction of camps called centres de regroupement. Second, the period between 1958 and 1962, which brought General Charles de Gaulle back to power, divided military from civil powers, and transformed the camps into ‘rural settlements’. The two phases shared a common attitude, however, which considered the entire Algerian population as potential suspects, and that Algerians should thus be strategically and continuously overseen.
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