Muriam Haleh Davis

Assistant Professor, History Department

Award Information

2011 IDRF Program

HistoryNew York University (NYU)

Development and Decolonization: European Integration and the Constantine Plan in Algeria, 1958-1962

My dissertation studies French development in Algeria from 1958 to 1961 in light of decolonization and European integration. It focuses on the Constantine Plan, which was an attempt to develop Algeria's political, social, and economic capacities. The victory of Keynesian economics and the gospel of industrialization after WWII, along with the beginnings of European integration, necessitated a serious rethinking of France’s role as a colonial power. Yet rather than look at development as a benevolent promise or a thinly veiled program of oppression, my dissertation will connect colonial development to shifts in the political economy of Europe and the creation of the European Economic Community. While the Constantine Plan is often viewed as a failed attempt to raise economic productivity, I will place development in the context of France’s repeated attempts to recast its role as an imperial power, which can be traced back to the creation of the French Union in 1946. Following, my dissertation will look at the ways in which the Constantine Plan helped institute a geographical imaginary that would merge Algeria and France in a common framework known as EurAfrica. The advocates of EurAfrica claimed that material productivity would lead to social harmony as racial distinctions would be softened by the unifying force of the market economy. Thus, development not only altered the distribution of material resources in Algeria, it also produced new understanding of human difference. My dissertation will trace how colonial administrators and local populations engaged with development in order to articulate understandings of racial categories, political legitimacy and economic orthodoxy, all of which played important roles in the decolonization of Algeria. In so doing, it will also shed light on the policies of the independent Algerian nation-state, which adopted elements from the Constantine Plan despite proclaiming an absolute break from the colonial period.