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North Africa constituted the locale of France’s second colonial empire-building project, which began in 1830 with the annexation of Algeria. France’s often tumultuous reign as a colonial power in the region lasted for more than a century. During this time she struggled to afford the region’s built space a uniquely French image. The French were only partially successful in this regard for several reasons. Prominent among these is the fact that the region’s built space boasts a history with roots in antiquity. This chapter discusses the many strategies that French colonial authorities deployed to supplant indigenous physical and spatial structures in the region with French varieties. Additionally, it draws attention to an important but largely ignored aspect of French urbanism in foreign lands – the fact that this phenomenon is not limited to regions that experienced French colonialism. In this connection, it is shown that the French influenced built space throughout North Africa, including countries such as Egypt that experienced British colonialism. Furthermore, the chapter discusses the French colonial policies of assimilation and association. Although these policies were advertised as diametrical opposites, they were, metaphorically speaking, the same wine in different bottles. This is because the policies were summoned to attain the common goal of reinforcing France’s grip on colonial North Africa.
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- French Urbanism in North Africa
Ambe J. Njoh
- Chapter 7