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Muhlenberg College

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Tunisia: Emerging Identities in North Africa


“Harki” is derived from the Arabic word “Harka,” meaning movement. This term is used to denote not only the original approximately 200,000 Algerian Arab and Berber Muslims, who militarily supported the French Army during the Algerian war for independence between 1954 and 1962, but also their families and descendants.[1] Especially during the war with Algeria and immediately following, they were often referred to as francais-musulmans, francais-musulmans repatries, or repatries d’origine nord africaine, thus avoiding the topic of conflict with the colony. This support took a range of forms, not always military; for example, the “Groupes d’auto defense (GAD) was tasked with protecting isolated villages…and the Groupes mobiles de securite (GMS) was a rural police force.”[2] France recruited the Harkis for their knowledge of local terrain and conditions, and in hopes that the FLN could be infiltrated, while reasons for joining the Harki were far more complex, ranging from political to economical to personal. Many joined the French Army with an understanding that further development and better social conditions were necessary before independence would be possible and successful, while others did so purely for the monthly wage and social security rights.[3]

[1] Eveline Stam-Hulsink, “The Legitimizing Function of the Individual Discourse: Remembering the Harkis’ Tragedy,” Time and Societ 21:139 (2012): 139

[2] Claire Eldridge, “Blurring the Boundaries Between Perpetrators and Victims: Pied-noir Memories and the Harki Community,” Memory Studies 3:123 (March 26, 2010): 126

[3] Eveline Stam-Hulsink: 139


Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Family, Life Course, and Society | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology of Culture


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