The “Latin” melting Pot ethnorepublican thinking and immigrant assimilation in and through colonial Algeria

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This article explores how, through discussions about immigrant assimilation in fin de siècle Algeria, French republicans contemplated and wrote into law the ethnic traits of French national identity. Republicans assumed that the North Mediterranean immigrants who settled in Algeria shared ethnic origins with French settlers and consequently asserted that France should work to “fuse” the two groups. Assertions about immigrants' ethnicity took different forms. In the colony they appeared either at the margins of colonial administrators' attacks against immigrant communal organization or in literary representations of French-Mediterranean fusion. In the metropole republican legislators portrayed immigrants as innately prone to becoming French and thus supported the 1889 nationality law that naturalized them. The passing of the 1889 law prompted the creation of an explicitly ethnorepublican assimilatory model. The model's proponents combined sociological and eugenicist principles to both socialize immigrants into the nation and promote the transfer of their Mediterranean “vigor” into French bodies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)85-118
Number of pages34
JournalFrench Historical Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Algeria
  • Assimilation
  • Citizenship
  • Republicanism
  • Settler colonialism


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