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Nanou Gazing Across the Mediterranean: A Journey Through Space, Memory, and Nostalgérie


This ethnographic thesis analyzes the intimate relationship between social spaces during the mid-1900s in French Algeria and memory retrieval after repatriation to France, through the eyes of my grandmother, Andrée Crouzade, a “Pied-Noir” (European settler of Algeria), whom I refer to as Nanou throughout this thesis. Andrée is a key actor in this project and her oral history is the impetus for the work I present herein. In an effort to give meaning and context to Andrée’s words, I examine the array of memories that exist within her accounts, comparing them to those offered by Pieds-Noirs authors, including Gabriel Conesa, Marie Cardinal, and Albert Camus. In this ethnography, I argue that spaces of memory do in fact ignite sentiments of nostalgia, which explains why the Pied-Noir community continues to live in a cycle of perpetual imaginary return to Algeria whilst residing in their country of exile, without foreseeing an actual return to their homeland. These diverse manifestations of memory represent a mental escape for the Pied-Noir community who yearn for a return to French Algeria—their paradis perdu (lost paradise). It is my scholarly yet personal quest to remain truthful to the collected oral research while bridging the gap between space, memory, and nostalgia.

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