Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

5/1/2007 - 7/31/2007

Funding Totals

$5,000.00 (approved)
$5,000.00 (awarded)

Colonial Pioneers: French Emigration to Algeria, 1830-1850

FAIN: FT-54883-07

Jennifer Sessions
University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA 52242-1320)

I propose to carry out archival research in three regions of France that will allow me to explain how and why French citizens chose to emigrate to Algeria in the mid-nineteenth century. This investigation of the economic, cultural, and political conditions that motivated colonial emigration will allow me to complete the final chapter of a book manuscript exploring the origins of the French colony in Algeria. My interdisciplinary study will offer the first scholarly analysis since decolonization of the foundation of France’s most important modern colony, and shed important new light on the trans-Mediterranean dimensions of modern Europeans’ global migrations.

Media Coverage

Written in Blood (Review)
Author(s): Tony Barber
Publication: Financial Times
Date: 12/9/2011

Associated Products

Le paradoxe des émigrants indésirables pendant la monarchie de Juillet, ou les origines de l’émigration assistée vers l’Algérie (Article)
Title: Le paradoxe des émigrants indésirables pendant la monarchie de Juillet, ou les origines de l’émigration assistée vers l’Algérie
Author: Jennifer Sessions
Abstract: From the beginning of the French conquest, Algeria was never seriously envisioned as anything other than a settler colony. France’s colonial history and Frenchmen’s reluctance to emigrate, as well as the violence of the military conquest, the difficulty of expropriating Algerian property, and the “inaptitude” of the first colonists, however, hindered the realization of this vision of a “new France” across the Mediterranean. The settlement policy developed under the July Monarchy sought to overcome these obstacles primarily by promoting the emigration of “bons sujets” who met particular moral, professional and physical criteria. By tracing the elaboration of this assisted emigration policy, I explore the definition of the “good colonist”, the mechanisms put in place to recruit emigrants in provincial France, the conflicts that arose between Paris, Algiers, and departmental and local authorities over Algerian emigration, and the identity of some twenty thousand individuals who were accorded free passages to Algeria in the first two decades of French colonization.
Year: 2010
Primary URL:
Secondary URL:
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Revue d'histoire du XIXe siècle
Publisher: ociété d'histoire de la révolution de 1848 et des révolutions du XIXe siècle

By Sword and Plow: France and the Conquest of Algeria (Book)
Title: By Sword and Plow: France and the Conquest of Algeria
Author: Jennifer Sessions
Abstract: In 1830, with France's colonial empire in ruins, Charles X ordered his army to invade Ottoman Algiers. Victory did not salvage his regime from revolution, but it began the French conquest of Algeria, which was continued and consolidated by the succeeding July Monarchy. In By Sword and Plow, Jennifer E. Sessions explains why France chose first to conquer Algeria and then to transform it into its only large-scale settler colony. Deftly reconstructing the political culture of mid-nineteenth-century France, she also sheds light on policies whose long-term consequences remain a source of social, cultural, and political tensions in France and its former colony. In Sessions's view, French expansion in North Africa was rooted in contests over sovereignty and male citizenship in the wake of the Atlantic revolutions of the eighteenth century. The French monarchy embraced warfare as a means to legitimize new forms of rule, incorporating the Algerian army into royal iconography and public festivals. Colorful broadsides, songs, and plays depicted the men of the Armée d'Afrique as citizen soldiers. Social reformers and colonial theorists formulated plans to settle Algeria with European emigrants. The propaganda used to recruit settlers featured imagery celebrating Algeria's agricultural potential, but the male emigrants who responded were primarily poor, urban laborers who saw the colony as a place to exercise what they saw as their right to work. Generously illustrated with examples of this imperialist iconography, Sessions's work connects a wide-ranging culture of empire to specific policies of colonization during a pivotal period in the genesis of modern France.
Year: 2011
Primary URL:
Secondary URL:
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-0801449758
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes