From January to April 2018, ULIP lecturer Dr Charlotte Chopin undertook a semester of research sabbatical. This period of dedicated research time allowed her to complete key sections of her forthcoming book, ‘The New White Race’: Settler Colonialism and the Press in Algeria, 1860-1914, to be published by the University of Nebraska Press.
The book, a monograph issuing from Dr Chopin’s doctoral thesis and subsequent research on the press, examines how the dynamics of settler colonial power in Algeria shaped the development of the press, and how the press, in its turn, framed processes of local, national and transnational identification amongst European and indigenous populations.
Although Algeria was a French territory, the majority of European settlers originated from other areas of the Mediterranean, including Spain, Italy and Malta. The press played a crucial role in shaping social relations between settlers of diverse origins. If journalists could, at times, emphasise differences of national origin amongst settlers, at other times they encouraged settlers to come together to exert their authority over the majority Arabo-Berber population, and to make demands of the French state. Journalistic attempts to create a distinctive settler community accelerated towards the end of the nineteenth century, as the French government mobilised the apparatus of the state in an effort to culturally assimilate settlers, whose foreign origins and local practices were perceived as suspicious during these years of rivalry between European governments. Resisting the form of French identity being imposed by the metropolitan government, settler journalists elaborated the notion of a ‘new white race’ developing in Algeria, united not only by ‘Latin’ blood, but by ‘Latin’ cultural practices, languages and gender relations. In defining the settler community by racial origin, gendered behaviour, and forms of linguistic expression, settler journalists excluded Algerian Muslims and Jews as both agents and subjects of news. Despite their marginalisation within professional structures, however, Muslims and Jews reappropriated journalistic forms to reimagine the boundaries and hierarchies of colonial society, and propose alternative forms of cultural and political community.
During her research sabbatical, Dr Chopin spent one month as a Visiting Fellow at the Moore Institute of the National University of Ireland in Galway. This time allowed her to move forward with the book manuscript, and to meet scholars from around the world, with a view to developing future research on comparisons and connections between the settler colonies of the French and British empires.