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From Poverty to Wretchedness: Albert Camus and the Psychology of the Pieds-noirs

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

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Journal publication date2013
JournalJournal of Colonialism and Colonial History
Journal number2
Volume14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article uses the pieds-noirs (European settlers) of Algeria as a case study of how ‘poor whites’ have been constructed, and have constructed themselves, in colonial historiography. Beginning with a re-examination of terminology, and of the socio-economic status of the pieds-noirs, I argue that the poverty of this community is more often and more usefully understood as a form of psychological impoverishment. The work of Albert Camus represents a salient example of these discourses and offers the historian a productive means of re-thinking the conceptually liminal space of ‘poor whites’ between colony and metropole.