Remembrance of Drinks Past: Wine and Absinthe in 19th Century French Algeria

Studer, Nina Salouâ (2021). Remembrance of Drinks Past: Wine and Absinthe in 19th Century French Algeria (Submitted). In: Gedenkschrift Jan-Georg Deutsch: Memory, Commemoration and the Politics of Historical Memory in Africa. de Gruyter

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This chapter draws links between the colonisation of French Algeria in the nineteenth century and the production, and especially the consumption, of alcohol. The military confrontation with abstentious Muslims prompted many nineteenth century French authors to highlight the correlation between French identity and certain alcoholic drinks. In France’s collective memory, wine and absinthe were intrinsically linked with the conquest of Algeria, with drinks both serving as an aide-de-mémoire for settlers returned to France and, more importantly, as an emblematic symbol for Algeria itself. Whether a person consumed or abstained from alcohol became one of the principal dichotomies in the settler worldview, encapsulating perceived cultural differences, with those Muslim men who began to drink alcohol after France’s brutal conquest of Algeria often framed as embracing French civilisation or as mimicking French culture. Even French authors who feared alcohol overconsumption amongst French settlers and the spread of alcoholism amongst local communities agreed that alcohol played a positive role in the colonisation of Algeria, as settlers both relied on it for comfort and used it to reinforce social contacts. This chapter shows how descriptions of the drinking habits of the French in colonial Algeria contributed to define the group identity of a dominant minority surrounded by an oppressed majority, while also examining why later French colonisers so often chose to recall with nostalgia the early colonisation of Algeria (i.e. the 1830s to 1850s) through metaphors connected to alcohol, with French culture likened to vines taking root on North African soil, fortifying conquered territory.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

UniBE Contributor:

Studer, Nina Salouâ


200 Religion > 290 Other religions
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
900 History > 940 History of Europe
900 History > 960 History of Africa


de Gruyter




Nina Salouâ Studer

Date Deposited:

17 Jun 2020 09:55

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:38


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