“If only I could have been a bomb, I would have exploded”: Algerian women communist militants, between assignation and subversion of gender roles (1944–1962)

By Pierre-Jean Le Foll-Luciani

Following on from recent research about the history of gender in colonial Algeria, this article focuses on the experiences of Algerian women communist militants, from the creation of the Union des femmes d’Algérie (Union of Women of Algeria) in 1944 until Algerian independence in 1962. The Parti communiste algérien (Algerian Communist Party) and its “mass” women’s organizations represent an excellent field of study to understand how women militants adapted to or subverted the gender roles produced by various social actors. Yet studying these groups also enables us to investigate the interaction between militancy and the gender and race-based social relations specific to colonial Algerian society. Communism was the political movement that brought together the largest number of women in Algeria in the decade after the Second World War, and it was the main space for political and sentimental interactions between men and women beyond the legal and racial barriers of colonial society. This created different issues within the ranks of Algerian communists than those faced by communists in Europe.

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