Feb. 13th – Mock Job talk – Kyle Francis on “Civilizing Settlers: Catholic Missionaries and the Colonial State in French Algeria, 1830-1914”
“Civilizing Settlers: Catholic Missionaries and the Colonial State in French Algeria, 1830-1914.”
This talk examines the contested space occupied by Catholic missionaries in the French government’s attempt to mold a cohesive community out of a heterogeneous group of European settlers in Algeria between 1830 and 1914. It argues that this effort constituted an alternate civilizing mission in which the aim was not to assimilate indigenous colonial subjects, but rather to spread French values to a heterogeneous settler population composed largely of Spanish, Italian, and Maltese immigrants. Whereas many colonial officials hoped to assimilate foreign settlers to their own secular sensibilities and to eradicate their religious difference altogether, Catholic missionaries sought to capitalize on foreigners’ religiosity in order to create a Catholic society they saw as increasingly foreclosed in a secularizing France. For both sides, Algeria served not as a laboratory of modernity whose findings could be grafted back on to metropolitan society, but as a site in which to forge a more radical national identity than the one then emerging in France itself.
Friday, February 13th, at 1:00 p.m, in the History Lounge (room 5114)