Journal article written by 2007 DPDF Rethinking Europe: Religion, Ethnicity, Nation Fellow Sheila Nowinski:
This article examines the history of France’s Rural Catholic Action organization in Algeria. The Jeunesse agricole catholique had surprising links, both practical and imagined, to North Africa from as early as the 1930s. In the 1930s and 1940s the Jeunesse agricole used colonial farming to reflect on young farmers’ situations in the metropole and as a means of integrating the French Catholic peasantry into the nation’s imperial project. Over the course of the Algerian War the Jeunesse agricole re-made itself in Algeria: from a Catholic association for European farmers to an external aid organization supporting a secular, Algerian youth group. This history exposes the continuities of French and Catholic civilizing missions across ‘decolonization’. It also sheds light on the importance of French Catholics to the elaboration of post-colonial development programs.