Laila Ali Dissertation Sample on Women Anticolonial Activists in French Algeria and British Somaliland 1920-1962
Laila Ali, 2019
Uma Narayan expounds on how women have been marginalized in decolonial narratives, as a transmutation from actual structural inequality. This view denotes that systemic subjugation has rendered women from political history. Feminist epistemology then streamlines how one crystallizes scholarship, without a mere inclusivity approach. For my dissertation, I will align my case studies with a feminist-conscious appraisal to historiography. In this way, such excoriation advances a conceptual framing to decolonization, in which Algerian and Somaliland women’s accounts will find burgeoning salience to anticolonial history.
For Algerian women, male indigenous, French, and Pied Noirs power fluxes interrelated to engender intransigence in the war’s readings. As such, in paraphrasing an only subaltern paradigm to assess the Algerian conflict, one will erase female participance intrinsically.
To Somaliland, the academy has inferenced a detachment from interventionism to the protectorate, which evolved a historiographical imbalance against nationalist narratives in the colony.
Chapter 1 overview
Chapter 2 overview
Gendering decolonization: a feminist epistemology
Chapter 1: FLN women: a fallout from French modernity in Algeria, 1954-1962
Chapter 2: Women’s challenges to British paternalism in Somaliland 1920-1960
Chapter 1 overview:
“With an Algerian woman, there is no progressive conquest, no mutual revelation.” Frantz Fanon on western ideations to Algerian womanhood.
On the 30th November 1956, in between the cordial ambience on the European Algiers district, three demurely attired Algerian women entered a diner, a milk bar, and an airport terminal, steadily integrating with Pied Noirs social hues and ethics. The apparent assimilated fashion and context to which the trio moved through these settler spaces, had concealed their revolutionary intentions for the FLN (Front de Libération Nationale) that day. As such, in their restaurant guerrilla bomb attacks, these women retorted to the settler/French value consensus successfully with covert hostility. This dissonance had augmented methods to which the nationalist group operationalized female membership in their independence war. Furthermore, the compounding of gender differentiation in the independence war fostered combative mantles for women within the FLN’s ‘absolute violence’ stance. The ‘tabula rasa’ plateau that Algerian insurgents undertook to force decolonization loosened socio-political structures to draft female participance in the war. Indeed, the acute dissolution to imperial-native relations engendered rubric for female militancy – fraught statehood contests impelled refigured gender paradigms in checking colonial Manicheanism.
Moreover, primordial French policy underwrote civic subjugation – where indigenous female literacy rates stilled at 4.5%, and in the context of burgeoning Middle Eastern feminism, imperial dichotomy became a reacting point for women combatants. Nonetheless, while Algerian women accounted for 2% of the FLN, they also had been present to rural support networks, which in itself corroborates the transcendental fabric to a revolution that gave nexus to rationale against ‘la mission civilisatrice’ and colonial assimilation. Now, native women appeared to have compounded their liberation in decolonial dialectics, thus transfiguring their own political, social, and metaphysical character. However, the delineation to gender schemas found a context in opposition to French modernization which redrew legislation to quell revolutionary peril. Thus, as anti-imperialism underpinned the equal rights drive, women’s activism in the independence war was essential to nationalist discourse, as responding to paternalist reforms. As stated, with such little leverage in socio-economic and political participation, this egalitarian streamlining to civil rights gave insurgents access to diplomatic patronage, in the paradox against settler conservatism. Thus, dichotomic French policy incited militancy from Algerian women in the independence war.
Though this impetus on socio-political metanarratives, it is also salient to illustrate personal autonomy in decolonization on corroborated accounts from Algerian female militants. Thus, with recourse to interviews and memoirs, one can locate the social psychology to women’s participance in the independence war. As such, this discourse can be correlated with the postcolonial theories of Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, and Anne McClintock, but also the contemporaneous feminist commentary from Simone de Beauvoir provides critical subtext. Finally, this excoriation will bolster the manifesting of debates in this dissertation. The corroborating material for this paper will infer the detriment of developmental legislation in the reported personal dissonance of Algerian women. However, this essay will evidence contentions on gendered socioeconomic disparity from institutional research, studies and discussions on Algeria and non-white women’s social lives. This comprises of UN, various NGOs, women’s committees, and government documents which will expand my macrosocial analysis on female militancy.
Chapter 2 overview:
British rule in Somaliland forwards paradox to the historiography of the East African colony. The narrative paradigm to this polity peripheralizes gender history; theoretically, Britain governed reticently here but advanced in logistics to Aden. Thus, this paper will attempt to evaluate the extent to which in the liminality between imperial occupation and the nationalist state, women’s activism galvanized without guiding institutions and native social circumstances.
Indeed, the above postcard of a crowded Berbera women’s market corroborates that socioeconomic activity was retained by native females under the protectorate. The location of the bazaar has salience in explicating the extent of socio-political occupation that Somali women undertook in British rule. The British had commenced Berbera as its first capital in the territory, finding plausibility in the port city’s strategic relevance. Thus, female traders have an imperative social location for evaluating women’s nationalism in Somaliland. However, the traditional souk in Somaliland did integrate women’s labor exertion prior to the British administration, and yet there advances a cognitive dissonance in conceptualizing female civic movement as but corollary to an imperial challenge.
There is evidence to suggest that women had been agents in the Somali pastoral economy before colonialism – one document from the British Foreign Office in 1920 purports that women undertook most employment on behalf of their own communities, which garnered conceptions of passivity to Somali men. This opinion was indeed admittedly underpinned in that “they allow their women to work for them”. However, the communal roles that Somali women undertook in epistemologically dominating ecology and commercializing the environment was streamlined by the protectorate for scientific farming. Furthermore, this reform shifted social mantles in rendering the female-held agricultural means of production; then, Somali women were limited to reproductive domains. Thus, my dissertation will claim that the disenfranchisement Somali woman underwent owing to colonial apparatuses – such as the marketization of conservation systems, and in restrictive socio-cultural milieus – with patriarchally stratified educational access, had given preamble to the construct of their rebellion against the British.
Poetry also endured as a nationalist protest for Somali women. In oral formats, the buraanbur domain – female-exclusive poem chanting, served as recourse to patriarchal rendering to women’s anti-imperialism. It is challenging to highlight the material to appendage my paper, yet there are secondarily available pieces that I will excerpt for analysis. Several are advantageously found in the “Subversive Women” collection from Zed books. The socio-structural implications to English being an administrative language only, and then a 1% literacy rate during the protectorate forwards how colonial dichotomy delimited native women’s personal-as-political expressions. Cultural denigration from Somali men had then redressed the imbuing of female art to indigenous canons. As such, this dissertation will claim that Somali women’s resistance was fraught with paradox in its removal of British supremacy for re-entrenchment of native male hegemony but was more a self-articulation for national independence and own historical matriarchy.
Gendering decolonization: a feminist epistemology
Uma Narayan expounds how women have been marginalized in decolonial narratives, as a transmutation from actual structural inequality. This view denotes that systemic subjugation has rendered women from political histories. Feminist epistemology then streamlines how one crystallizes scholarship, without a mere inclusivity approach. For my dissertation, I will align my case studies with a feminist-conscious appraisal to historiography. In this way, such excoriation advances a conceptual framing to decolonization, in which Algerian and Somali women’s accounts will find burgeoning salience to anticolonial history. For Algerian women, male indigenous, French, and Pied Noirs power fluxes interrelated to engender intransigence in the war’s readings. As such, in paraphrasing an only subaltern paradigm to assess the Algerian conflict, one will erase female participance intrinsically. To Somaliland, the academy has inferenced a detachment from interventionism to the protectorate, which evolved a historiographical imbalance against nationalist narratives in the colony.
For instance, the Algerian war consequentially reconstructed hegemony systemics, in which the “traumatized” population interconnected socio-economic disparity with women’s liberation. In this way, gendered paradigms of the conflict’s history have been designed in parallel to this social psychology. In British Somaliland, sparseness in infrastructural and educational organizations hampered factional mobilization, which scholars have interpreted as fragmenting women’s public activities. Thus, feminist epistemology shifts this conceptual interplay between theory and historic events. Indeed, the academy have exerted colonialism in explications for their subject’s cognizance and methodologies. Nonetheless, British and French rule had initialized such essentialism in their colonial modernity. The scholar Njoki Nathani Wane expands on how assimilative policy distorted indigenous philosophy and impelled cultural demarcation to pedagogy.
However, institutional imperialism fragmented native cognition in its total epistemological dominance to social images. In Algeria, the French state held policy reform as a mantle for power exchanges with a recalcitrant populace; Neil MacMaster evidences that developmentalism only ostensibly checked female nationalism, to augment authorities in Paris. For the Somaliland protectorate, metropole structures suggested the supplanting to women’s pastoral labor , by which the more contemporaneous commentary was accepted as modernity impetus. Thus, the intersections between European machinations in these two polities and meta-discourse has promulgated an error in historiography, in which decolonial studies reimagined marginality to women’s contributions.
Chapter 1: FLN women: a fallout from French modernity in Algeria, 1954-1962
The militancy and activism of indigenous women in the Algerian revolution owed to a long falling-out from French social policy. Franz Fanon explicates that colonial rule in Algeria was firstly entrenched by subjugating rural populations; in this way, with 80% of Algerians situated in the village regions, I contend that the economic and personal capital of almost all native women was suppressed. Moreover, French reforms were established within the remote parts of Algeria, in this logic of colonization dynamics. Thus, the structural interrelations of communal, feudal, and imperial despotism underpinned the first streamlining to native women’s societies. However, these development programs advanced French hegemony with paternalistic philanthropy, and labor manipulation by Pied Noirs. Indeed, modernity was an imperial machination with subtext in the stratification between European occupation and native subjects, but also an epistemological conception for extending indigenous women’s subaltern status.
For example, state social work initiatives illustrate how humanitarian bodies augment imperialism in resource mobilization. French modernization held a geographic and social imperative in the bled environment – the rural exterior, where most guerrillas could strategize from the expertise of provincial logistics. As such, colonial authorities could initialize development with a counter-insurgency rhetoric; French policy was a purported counterbalance to the social hindrances of nationalist primordiality. However, owing to its structural command from the Fifth Bureau – a war propaganda body, women’s programs in the pastoral areas embodied a transformative assimilative objective, imbued in a means to the subsisting of French rule in Algeria. One instruction paper from Bureau staff evinces the guiding multiplicity in welfare policy for bled Algeria. The Directive 257 reprised on the aims and mobilization schema for its principal development arm, the Équipes medico-sociale itinérantes (EMSI), mobile health and social care teams, in which civic assimilation was the total goal. Indeed, transmuting the bureaucratic order of the operationally French group to native women, could then offset any intransigence from locals and retain this progressivism. Excerpts from the missive outline that “it is the [EMSI] circle that provides the education which in the end is the true mission”, expounding on the transcendental modernity that France paraphrased from la mission civilisatrice. This extract reports the employment systemic that the Bureau applied to reproduce imperial authority when the EMSI were reassigned to a new town, which was to identify and train Algerian women to reinstate imperial programming. However, in the enduring dialectics in Algiers, rendered for analogous ideological salience to a prevailing of colonial rule – specifically, on the ‘hearts’ and ‘minds’ balance sheet of the embittered war, women’s schemes only meant for the insistence of a French Algeria. This rationalization is asserted in the Directive 257 document, in which the Bureau maintains that developmentalism in this way is “for…that of a France united across the two shores of the Mediterranean”.
Moreover, France engendered for likewise humanitarianism in the commercial towns, where philanthropic paternalism engaged with labor exploitation, to formulate a fuller argument for French rule. There is symbiosis in the social locations for the two native populations, rather only to geo-economic significance. This relation owed to forced urbanization – ‘regroupement’ to the Arab peasantry, which connotes the congeniality of how French social policy crystallized to a persistent logic of cultural deductions. This visionary reform format was also, in municipalities like Rio-Salado, an example of settler-French dispossession to natives – both in redressing FLN nationalism, and pacifying locals with forced labor. This schematic in Rio-Salado fostered from the presence of the welfare committee ‘Mouvement de solidarité féminine’ (MSF/the Women’s solidarity movement), in which a Manichean discourse on native metaphysical and identity embodiments flowed through fund eligibility and mobilizing approaches.
The doctrinal modalities to the MSF and other reform arms was to expropriate the French model of familial order with an interventionist resource mobilization, likewise expressed by other European empires. MacMaster extends this claim in contending that imperial politics imagined Algerian women to the same disruptive symbolism of the metropole proletariat – French development paraphrased 19th-century social eugenics, which inferenced racial dissonance to economic class divisions. This discourse crystallized in the programs that the MSF formulated to engage Algerian families. For instance, a set of rapport-building codes written by MSF head Mme Tournemine and disseminated by the army, denotes the covert colonial psychology underpinning social care outreach. The document shows an apparent paradox in its discursive guidelines, which subaltern attestations on Algerians and transcendental rhetoric converge in its undercurrents. One excerpt from this missive expounds to MSF volunteers to not “be surprised by anything….Nothing should put you out; copyright away their way of doing things; sit on the ground or on a bench, drink coffee just as it is offered”. This instruction connotes to me how racial essentialism was reproduced at an institutional scale, which then theoretically interrelates to Edward Said’s arguments on colonial ‘orientalism’ being an epistemological instrument over non-white cultural images. As such, welfare programs ideologically retained the French counter-insurgency.
Chapter 2: Women’s challenges to British paternalism in Somaliland 1920-1960
Somali women protested British ‘indirect’ colonialism in distinct resistance forms. In the delineated period from 1920 to 1960, Somali women were not marked as institutional, grassroots, or insurgent organizers, but their anti-imperial rhetoric manifested in literary significance and embodying economic and social histories. Both discourses fluxed in the presented few cases of women in nationalist bodies; Somali Youth League (SYL) women reiterated the commercial and personal investments in their anticolonialism, articulated in their civic commitment to the group and then poetry. However, the political rubric for Somali women owed to a longer embedded economic socialization that was streamlined for free-market imperialism. Indeed, while indigenous females usually dominated communal subsistence and production before the Protectorate, colonial tax policy and scientific conservation systems rendered Somali women as passive agents in this ascendant modernity. In addition, oral literature holds thematic salience to my paper’s theoretical frame; in buraanbur poetry, native women’s autonomy in excoriating and retorting to the repressive patriarchal (colonial or indigenous) milieus forwards itself a countering toward Somali women’s historiographical alienation.
Britain’s policies removed Somali women from their communal domains and deigned against their economic capital. From 1928, agricultural development became significant for British administration in Somaliland, in which London-trained agronomists were appointed to streamline indigenous ecological methods, however, British authorities had abstracted for pastoral modernization at a stretch back to 1920. The “British Somaliland and Sokotra” Foreign Office report in which this notion appeared, does inference to women’s economic prevalence in highlighting that Somalis “allow their women to work for them”; but in language nuance, it underscores the dissonant perceptions on labor divisions and gender norms between colonial authorities and natives. However, the primary shift in social dynamics during British involvement in Somaliland, was after the introduction of ‘indirect rule’ to the Empire, in 1934. The socioeconomic primacy of women was fragmented by the nascent organizing to power conferment, in which the British delineated auxiliary roles for tribal chiefs, in constructing political devolvement to indigenous locals. Yet still, in my view, it also was a manifestation of the British familial trajectory, in which a split between public and private gender delegation was forged to implement local governance dynamics.
Nonetheless, to this evolving frame, which advances the temporal extent of Somali women’s fluctuant colonial paradigms, premises an undertow of how female anti-imperialism was fostered in the protectorate. It is also imperative to interconnect political courses with psychological meanings. Firstly, the jettisoning to the matriarchal order in the pastoral economy owed to the internationalization of market structures in British Somaliland after the second world war; agriculture in the territory now was subject to an exchange dichotomy. The colonial state then, in backing the merchant strata to convolute the financial system, structurally denigrated against nomadic autonomy. This streamlining to the Somali political economy embedded hegemonic norms to kinship, in which women were depreciated to private settings; the rescinding to pastoral formats signified little requirement for communalism and women’s contributions. This deposal to indigenous systemics is drawn to have totalized negation to Somali custom in Lidwien Kapteijns’ article, but historiographically British economic policy has been painted to a mostly paternalistic, disengaged depiction.
Women were also disenfranchised from the compounded imperial and indigenous hegemony in educational services. This institution was an instrument of colonial consciousness, in which the natalist and domestic syllabus cores subjected illiberal class orders to local women. The quandaries in introducing secular schooling for girls, owing to the traditional climate, was expressed as rationale by Brock Millan for the male-exclusive pedagogy in the Protectorate. The British assumed patriarchal stances on education from ‘Mad Mullah’ Mohammed Abdullah Hassan’s didactic disapprobation against missionary schools in the Berbera hub. While scholars such as McClintock infer psychosomatic dynamics between male anticolonial campaigns and discontent to gender reforms, Britain’s education policies rendered Somali women without agency in colonization discourse.
Indeed, such a policy was formulated to augment the administrative needs of ‘indirect rule’ implementation. It was then conceptually expressed in a curriculum that was instrumental only to the propelling of imperialism, and Britain’s disconnecting modernization undervalued critical sciences and higher education. For example, one Parliamentary Commons recording from the Protectorate’s final decade evidences that most funding and class spaces correlated to primary level, with secondary schooling at a minute ratio. This planning implies to me that preclusion to advanced studies could have been politicized – for proscribing against deconstructing anti-imperialism emerging within indigenous pupils. Since intermediate training was the upper demarcation in school, I argue that the colonial state aimed to engender productive docility in forwarding native ancillaries underpinning British occupation. Thus, for girls, this developmental stagnancy flowed down to entrench capitalist and traditional hybridity to their societal functions.
However, this colonial schema was the central pedagogical model for Black Africa, which was synthesized from British economic paternalism in the continent. For instance, this institutional frame is premised on the Victorian ‘civilizing mission’ doctrine, to measure imperialism on the assimilative process. A 1925 report from the education committee for Tropical Africa, posits that “education should be adapted to the mentality… and traditions of the various peoples, adapting them where necessary to…progressive ideas, as an agent of natural growth and evolution”. This perspective illustrates the modernity break in how at once indigenous women were held to transcendental race and class discourse, but also projected to objectify in native hierarchies of such “traditions”. In British Somaliland, while public schooling for women was delimited, indigenous females were then deigned to primary socialization, which in ideology was also colonized domain. Therefore, Somali women now found subjugation from the colonial apparatus, totally, but this suppressive paradigm had incited nationalism that articulated iconoclastic responses to British and native male hegemony.
 Frantz Fanon, “A Dying Colonialism”, New York, 1965, p46
 Frantz Fanon, “The Wretched of The Earth”, New York, 1963, p37
 “British Somaliland and Sokotra”, ed. George Walter Prothero, British Foreign Office, 1920, p28.
 Ahmed M. Mah, “The colonial discourse of development in Africa: The Somalia experience”, Toronto, 1999, p58
 Dahabo Farah Hassan, “Somalia: Poetry as resistance against colonialism and patriarchy” in ”Subversive Women: Women’s Movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean”, ed Saskia Wieringa, London, 1995, p168.
 Kathleen Lonsdale, “Twelfth International Congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom”, Paris, 1953, p148.
 Uma Narayan, “The Project of Feminist Epistemology: Perspectives from a non-western feminist”, in “Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing”, eds Alison M. Jaggar and Susan Bordo , New Jersey, 1989, p256.
 Neil MacMaster, “Burning the veil: The Algerian war and the ‘emancipation of Muslim women” 1954-1962, Manchester, 2009, p348.
 Njoki Nathani Wane, “African Indigenous Knowledge: Claiming, Writing, Storing, and Sharing the Discourse”, Journal of Thought, Vol 40, No. 2, p32.
 Neil MacMaster, “Burning the Veil…”, p3.
 Nkolika Ijeoma Aniekwu, “Converging Constructions: A Historical Perspective on Sexuality and Feminism in Post-Colonial Africa”, African Sociological Review, Vol 10, No. 1, 2006, p147.
 I.M. Lewis, “A modern history of the Somali”, Ohio, 1966, p120.
 Franz Fanon “The wretched of the earth”, p65.
 Neil MacMaster “Burning the Veil” p209.
 Fifth Bureau, “Directive 257”, found in Neil MacMaster book “Burning the veil”, p249.
 Fifth Bureau, “Directive 257”, found in Neil MacMaster book “Burning the veil”, p250.
 Neil MacMaster, “Burning the veil”, p250.
 Fifth Bureau, “Directive 257” in “Burning the veil”, p250.
 Neil MacMaster, “Burning the veil” p194.
 Neil MacMaster, “Burning the veil” p193.
 Neil MacMaster, “Burning the veil”, p178.
 Mme Tournemine, “Action pyschologique féminine”, found in Neil MacMaster book “Burning the veil”, p190.
 Edward Said, “Orientalism”, New York, 1979, p3.
 Safia Aidid, “Haweenku Wa Garab (Women are a Force): Women and the Somali Nationalist Movement, 1943–1960”, Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies: Vol. 10, Article 10, p111.
 Fatuma B. Guyo, “Colonial and post-colonial changes and impact on pastoral women’s roles and status”, in Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice, Vol 7, No. 13 p9.
Ahmed M. Mah, “The colonial discourse…”, p48.
 “British Somaliland and Sokotra”, ed. George Walter Prothero, p32.
 Fatuma B. Guyo, “Colonial and post-colonial changes and impact on pastoral women’s roles and status”, in Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice, Vol 7, No. 13 p1.
 Fatumo B. Guyo, “Colonial and Post-colonial changes”, p8.
 Lidwien Kapteijns, “Gender Relations and the Transformation of the Northern Somali Pastoral Tradition”, the International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2, 1995, 253.
 Lidwien Kapteijns, “Gender relations…”, p256.
 Brock Millman, “British Somaliland, an administrative history, 1920-1960”, Oxford, 2014, p242.
 Brock Millman, “British Somaliland, an administrative history…”, p166.
 Anthony Olden, “Somali Opposition to Government Education: R. E. Ellison and the Berbera School Affair, 1938–1940”, History of Education, Vol 32, No. 1, p72.
 Anne McClintock, “Imperial leather: race, gender and sexuality…”, p119.
 “Education, British Somaliland”, Mr. Oliver Lyttelton MP, House of Commons, Deb 12 November 1952 vol 507 cc50-1W.
Advisory Committee on Education in British Tropical Africa, “Adaption to native life”, found in Casper Anderson book “The Government and Administration of Africa, 1880-1939, Volume 5”, Oxford, 2016, p261.
 Safia Aidid, “Haweenku Wa Garab (Women are a Force): Women and the Somali Nationalist Movement, 1943–1960” in Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies, Vol 10, p108
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