Immigrant workers in the slums of Nanterre and their return to Algeria. An oral survey in the Souf region

By Marie-Claude Blanc-Chaléard, Muriel Cohen

This paper looks back at a set of oral archives collected in 2011 and 2012 among former inhabitants of the slums of Nanterre, from the Souf region in Algeria. The survey took place at both ends of the migration chain, particularly among returned migrant workers. The conditions of the collection and the stakes of the project are presented in the first section. The second section reviews the main historical contributions of this novel approach. These filmed archives give the opportunity to revisit the history of Algerian immigration during the “Trente Glorieuses” from the experience of the populations concerned. They therefore bring out a narrative in which Algerian migrants do not appear as merely populations forced to act under constraint, but also as actors of their migration project. The words of the migrants who left from the 1980s onwards also enable us to understand more precisely the effects of the economic context and the measures taken against Algerians at the end of the 1970s.

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