Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Richard Wolin

Committee Members

David Troyansky

Gary Wilder

Camille Robcis

David Schalk

Subject Categories

African History | Continental Philosophy | Ethics and Political Philosophy | European History | Intellectual History | Islamic World and Near East History | Other French and Francophone Language and Literature | Political History


Francophone Maghreb, Historical Theory, Decolonization, French Historiography, North African Historiography


This dissertation examines the use of the French Revolution as an explanatory device for discussing the French-Algerian War (1954-1962). Anticolonial intellectuals in France invoked the French Revolution to explain their reasons for supporting colonial reform as well as their solidarity with Algerian nationalist aims. Through an examination of intellectuals’ public interventions alongside French and Algerian historical narratives, I examine the ways in which historical alignment signaled political and cultural distance between France and Algeria. Making an independent Algeria analogous to eighteenth-century revolutionary France lent political and conceptual legitimacy to Algerian claims to an independent national identity while also reinforcing the basic tenets of France’s colonial claims to historical and cultural universalism.