Apostles of Modernity: Saint-Simonians and the Civilizing Mission in Algeria

Osama Abi Mershed Apostles of Modernity     

Osama Abi-Mershed

Stanford University, 2010

Between 1830 and 1870, French army officers serving in the colonial offices of Arab affairs profoundly altered the course of political decision-making in Algeria. Guided by the modernizing ideologies of the Saint-Simonian school in their development and implementation of colonial policy, the officers articulated a new doctrine and framework for governing the Muslim and European populations of Algeria.

In Apostles of Modernity: Saint-Simonians and the Civilizing Mission in Algeria, Abi-Mershed shows the evolution of this civilizing mission in Algeria, and illustrates how these 40 years were decisive in shaping the principal ideological tenents in French colonization of the region. The book offers a re-thinking of French colonial history, and reveals not only what the rise of Europe implied for the cultural identities of non-elite Middle Easterners and North Africans, but also what dynamics were involved in the imposition or local adoptions of European cultural norms and how the colonial encounter impacted the cultural identities of the colonizers themselves.