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French History Advance Access

Published: Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:53:23 GMT


Le silence du peuple: The Rhetoric of Silence during the French Revolution


In July 1789, a phrase was introduced into French political discourse that would quickly become a standing expression: le silence du peuple est la leçon des rois. Taking this political bon mot as a starting point, the article traces the uses of and responses to collective silences during the French Revolution. It is argued that silence cannot be reduced to just the lack of ‘voice’ indicating suppression or political impotence. Rather, it must be understood as a mode of political action with a rhetoric of its own. Sketching this rhetoric not only highlights the nature and functions of a mode of political communication too often disregarded. It also shows how the controversies surrounding these silences reflected some of the major political questions of the day, playing a key role in the renegotiations of the communicative spaces of politics set off by the Revolution.

‘For Progress and Civilization’: History, Memory and Alterity in Nineteenth-Century Colonial Algeria


This article explores the role played by the past and by notions of alterity and belonging in political and cultural debates pertaining to the Algerian colony in the nineteenth century. It identifies a number of historical and memorial references in French and Algerian discourse and shows how they inflected power relations in the colony at the time. This study considers how history and memory, as well as colonial relationships were invoked and represented by the French and by Algerian Muslims. It examines how French colonial narratives on past wars and conflicts intersected with representations the actual phenomenon of colonisation. It also discusses the emergence on the political scene of a small group of French-educated Algerian Muslims from the end of the nineteenth century. It assess the extent to which those Algerians were able to develop an alternative political voice and to construct an empowering narrative on Algerians’ experience and identity that countered dominant French discourse.