A World No Longer Shared

Losing the Droit de Cité in Nineteenth-Century Algiers

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
James McDougall Oxford University

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This article examines the rapid and dramatic shifts in position, perception, and possibility that characterized the onset of colonialism in the Maghrib. The focus is on a small, interrelated group of families of Algiers notables. Their heads, the merchant and state servant Ḥamdān ibn ʿUthmān Khoja and the banker and businessman Aḥmad Bū Ḍarba, played important roles in attempting to negotiate an accommodation with the French occupiers between 1830 and . By 1836, they found themselves pushed out, both politically and physically, from the cité (both physical and symbolic) that they had, until then, imagined themselves as sharing on equal terms with interlocutors on the other shore of the Mediterranean. Closing down their possibilities of dialogue can be seen as the first, decisive step in the emergence of French definitions of a “monologic,” exclusively European articulation of the meaning of modernity in North Africa.

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