Amine Kasmi

Rebuilding Abd al-Qadir’s Cities under French Administration: From Regulation to Renewal

War-torn countries have in common the brutal nature of the destruction, affecting simultaneously several cities, over large areas. However, throughout history, the rebuilding of war-devastated cities has taken place in very different forms. In this context and among the wars that the central Maghreb (present-day Algeria) has sustained was the resistance war to the French occupation; an armed conflict that opposed the resistance leader Emir Abd al-Qadir and the French colonial army, from 1832 to 1847. After the end of the war and the defeat of Abd al-Qadir, the reconstructions were carried out in particularly difficult conditions: lack of funds, political instability, building materials shortages, large numbers of displaced people, and insecurity. Moreover, the colonial context made the task of rebuilding more complex. Because of the dual nature of the cities under colonization, two societies were juxtaposed. Colonized and colonizers both started to (re)build, each in the areas intended for them, each according to their know-how and ability.
Based on this, the lecturer raises questions about the modalities adopted by the French colonial administration to achieve the rebuilding of devastated cities in such a critical economic and political situation. The idea put forward is that the colonial administration placed a moratorium on the rebuilding task by assigning it to individuals at first, and then promoting large-scale renovations. Thus, this administration converted the “rebuilding task” into an “urban renewal task.”

Amine Kasmi

Postdoctoral Fellow, AKPIA at MIT