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4. PARTISANS AND POPULATIONS: THE PLACE OF CIVILIANS IN WAR, ALGERIA (1954–62

Brower, Benjamin Claude

History and Theory, September 2017, Vol.56(3), pp.389-397 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    4. PARTISANS AND POPULATIONS: THE PLACE OF CIVILIANS IN WAR, ALGERIA (1954–62
  • Autor: Brower, Benjamin Claude
  • Assuntos: Revolutionary War ; Algeria ; Schmitt ; Civilian ; Population ; Decolonization ; Violence
  • É parte de: History and Theory, September 2017, Vol.56(3), pp.389-397
  • Descrição: Carl Schmitt's influential text (1963) serves in this article to read the history of civilians in modern warfare, examining the case of Algeria (1954–62). Schmitt's argument that the partisan leads to a dangerous conceptual blurring in war, confusing soldier and civilian, friend and enemy, reveals important questions about the war, questions that are otherwise invisible in conventional readings of the archives. Notably it places in relief the figure of the “population,” a way that the French military conceptualized Algerian civilians and their place on the battlefield. The article argues that the population, as constituted in military theory, needs to be understood as the partisan's partner in contributing to the normlessness of violence. This offers both a new reading of the war in Algeria and the violence suffered by civilians, as well as a correction to Schmitt's politically one‐sided explanation of the problem of normlessness and modern warfare. Whereas Schmitt's revolutionary partisan is a figure of the left, the notion of the population originated among counter‐revolutionary French officers who rethought war in an effort to stop decolonization and reshape their own society along military lines. For them Algerian civilians served as a primary weapon against the National Liberation Front (FLN) by breaking up the nationalists’ claim to lead a single, undivided, and sovereign Algerian people. In effect, the notion of the population made Algerian civilians appear as potential enemies to the FLN, blurring the nationalists’ own understanding of the political configuration of the war, directly exposing civilians to its violence.

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