Mentor: Dr. Luise White
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"To explore how history is formed and how we interact and respond to it."
Hobbies and Interests
Manipulation of Trauma in the Algerian Liberation War
"Wars of national independence gain legitimacy through an idealized notion of justice that is often decided by people outside of the nation. Memoirs, films, and novels are used to create a memory that establishes a dominant narrative of an event outside the country in question without the burden of accountability. The uninterrogated quality of these documents places them in a powerful position that enables them to attribute cultural and ideological significance in establishing the ‘proper’ method of remembering the history of an event. This memory often involves a re-living of trauma which constructs historical narratives based on post-traumatic stress. The Algerian War of Liberation in particular has entered the historical canon in a constructed form through various ‘primary’ works on the events, such as, Frantz Fanon’s A Dying Colonialism and Gillo Pontecorvo’s film The Battle of Algiers. While The Battle of Algiers is a dramatized version of the Algerian War of Liberation, it is by far the most popular representation of the war. Thus, the film’s portrayal of the war has over time become the history of the war itself. Yet, The Battle of Algiers is a history of the war viewed through Fanon’s writing, specifically his ideas about women and his ideal views of a post-colonial Muslim society rather than his observations about their place in 1950s Algeria. This process of superimposing ideological significance onto these events creates a manipulated memory of the war which becomes more important than the events themselves. Didier Fassin’s The Empire of Trauma argues that post-traumatic stress disorder is often presented as ‘proof’ of a memory’s reliability, so much so that it’s almost become the natural result of political violence and repression despite its impenetrable and constructed quality. In my project, I will interrogate first person accounts from the war to examine the ways in which post-traumatic stress disorder is a product of these manipulated memories of the war.