"Femmes d'Algérie": Visual Propagandist Representations and the War of Independence

Sohail, Saira, French - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Boutaghou, Ferial, University of Virginia

Propaganda played a key role in the Algerian War of Independence from 1954-1962. The French army and the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) engaged in a dialogue through their respective visual propaganda, each side promoting their own ideologies and expectations about the role that the ideal Muslim woman should play in an evolving Algerian society.
In this dissertation, I will examine representations of Algerian women in propaganda produced by both French and FLN armies during the War of Independence. In analyzing propaganda materials that relied heavily on visual elements to depict or target the Muslim Algerian woman, I will address broader questions of political motivations of each side of this war. Using a semiotic approach, I examine the aesthetic and stylistic choices employed by the French and Algerian armies in the images, aiming to understand how each side used design and iconography to promote the narratives and perceptions of Algerian women. I explore the dialogue that was present between the French army and FLN through their propaganda. I argue that both the French army and the FLN used visual propagandist representations of Algerian women to present ideologies that would help them control the Algerian people. The narratives that were thus presented through the visual propaganda materials, rather than reflecting the French army’s and FLN’s true attitudes towards the role of Algerian women, better reflect their politicization of these women to promote their broader political goals. Through my research, I highlight the important role and symbolism attributed to women during times of conflict and how powerful images can be in shaping public attitudes.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Algeria, propaganda, psychological warfaire
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: