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The Pieds-Noirs and French Political Life, 1962–2015


In the period 1961–2, as Algeria was moving towards independence, almost a million Pieds-Noirs left the country for metropolitan France. The swiftness of this migration process1 led the authorities to take emergency measures for the integration of Algeria’s former French population.2 The imperative need for ‘metropolitanization’ of the Pieds-Noirs also brought with it new administrative classification procedures: until the legislation of 26 December 1961, ‘repatriation’ was defined under French law as ‘return to one’s country of origin’; subsequently it was interpreted as concerning ‘all French people forced, as the result of political events, to leave territories formerly under French sovereignty’.3 With the advent of independence, then, repatriation became a tool for dealing with the consequences of the colonial question. As a response to the political circumstances of the time, this legal reinterpretation of repatriation can be seen as something purely artificial. Nonetheless it had indisputable effects in practice: it enabled exact designation of those potentially eligible for help in moving to France, while the pied-noir category had no legal existence as such,4 being associated rather with the ‘colonial situation’ and Algerian independence.
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hal-03223030 , version 1 (10-05-2021)



Eric Savarese. The Pieds-Noirs and French Political Life, 1962–2015. Manuel Borutta; Jan C. Jansen. Vertriebene and Pieds-Noirs in Postwar Germany and France : comparative perspectives, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.173-189, 2016, 978-1-137-50841-6. ⟨10.1057/9781137508416_9⟩. ⟨hal-03223030⟩
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