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Un âne dans l’ascenseur’: late colonial welfare services and social housing in Marseille after decolonization

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During the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62) a parallel state administration in metropolitan France sought to counter nationalist influence among migrant workers. Alongside a repressive security apparatus, targeted welfare services pursued an integrative agenda premised on the ‘adaptation’ of Algerians to French norms. In recent years historians have highlighted the persistence of such experiments after decolonization, arguing that recycled ‘expertise’ reproduced discrimination vis-à-vis postcolonial immigration. This article explores these issues through a case study of Marseille, tracing the evolution of a specialist network that ran integrative welfare and housing services from the 1950s until the mid-1970s. Behind the striking continuity in personnel and practices, two significant developments are considered. First, the extension of these services to so-called ‘troubled’ French families raised fundamental questions about the nature of integrative welfare. Second, the influence of Marseille’s socialist-run municipality over social housing created tensions between a clientelistic political culture and the network’s paternalist logic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-447
JournalFrench History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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