Colonialism and Urbanism: Colonial Policies and Urban Planning in Algeria




Colonialism and Urbanism: Colonial Policies and Urban Planning in Algeria
Author: Said Almi, PhD
Publication: 2013
Publisher: Dar Khettab, Algiers, 2 Vol. 424 & 432 p.

Translation: Nasrine Louli & Mohamed-Reda Boukhalfa

ISBN : 978-9931-429-00-5

Contrary to the belief according to which Algerian city planning owes nothing to the French colonial period, we have shown that all the options taken in the field of urbanism in Algeria are still based on a fewideological principles elaborated in the historical and political context of the French colonization. We are also denying another current view. For us this colonial experience cannot be summed up as a single monolithic whole : itencompassed s series of quite different approaches depending on three
great principleswhich can be qualified as conservative, associative and assimilative, and which were respectively applied by the military administration, by some St.Simonians and by a group of Fourierists after 1840.  
We have been able to compare and relate to these principles the various trends that appeared in urbanism. The first one which we have named « protective » was aiming at the preservation of ancient neighbourhoods and stems directly back from conservative tradition of the military forces. The second trend which we named regularizing aimed at the transformation of traditional urban spaces according to new needs, but without damaging the existing structures, which was also the social aim the associative movement. We have named yhe third trend progressive : its target was essentially efficiency and productivity and it resulted in eliminating Algerian spatial traditions and specificities. It must be related to the assimilative colonial issue. We have also discovered a fourth plan ning approach marked by nostalgia and inspired by a yearn for the former cultural comunities. This pproach has no genealogical link with the past.  In fact, the progressive socialism of independent Algeria has been modelled on foreign experiences, supposed to be based on scientific principles and to help get rid of the past : a complete mistake illustrated by the triumph of both progressive and culturalist urbanism in Algeria since 1962.