The Algerian Revolution (1954–1962), the war to gain independence from the French colonisation, was particularly hard fought. Architect Samia Henni turned to a lesser known facet of this war, namely the architectural strategies executed by the French civil and military authorities to prolong its colonial presence and oversee the Algerian Revolution and populations.
Samia Henni introduced and discussed the arguments of her book Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria (Zurich: gta Verlag, 2017). The book examines the intersection of French colonial policies and military counterinsurgency operations in architecture in Algeria during the Algerian Revolution. In the course of this bloody and protracted armed conflict, the French civil and military authorities profoundly reorganized Algeria’s urban and rural territory, drastically transformed its built environments, rapidly implanted new infrastructure, and strategically built new settlements in order to keep Algeria under French colonial rule. The colonial regime planned and undertook not only tactical demolition programs but also developed new structures in order to facilitate the strict control of the Algerian population and the protection of the European communities of Algeria.
This lecture was organized in connection to the exhibition Discreet Violence, curated by Henni.
Samia Henni is an architect and an architectural historian and theorist who works at the intersection of architecture, planning, colonial practices, and military operations from the early nineteenth century up to the present. She received her Ph.D. in History and Theory of Architecture from the ETH Zurich (with distinction, ETH Medal). She is the author of Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria (Zurich: gta Verlag, 2017). She is currently a Lecturer in History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University’s School of Architecture.