'Algérie: guerres, désignations, discours' in CELAAN Review (Centre d’études des littératures et des arts d’Afrique du Nord), New York, USA. Special issue on the Algerian wars, 2004
I was guest editor for this special issue dedicated to the Algerian wars and published for the 40th anniversary of the independence of Algeria. My article explored a specific link between the two great conflicts in Algeria, the War of Independence and the “second war” of the eighties and nineties: the way in which language was used to reflect the spiral of destruction and exclusion of the other. The French Review, the largest circulation of any scholarly journal of French studies in the world referred to it thus: l’excellent dernier article de Latiri...introduit brillamment à la complexité de l’histoire de l’Algérie... (vol 80, N° 4, p901).
I investigated literary and paraliterary texts that take the two wars as their subject, using tools of linguistic analysis to reveal the semantic processes at work when discussing those perceived as adversaries. Using my lexicographic experience to collect and analyse terms used for the communities involved in the War of Independence, I assembled a unique paradigm of these terms: most were used to show distance, if not actual disparagement or hatred of the other. I also demonstrated analogies with the use of language in the second war, with Algerians manipulating language to denigrate minority communities like divorced women and the young unemployed. Likewise, euphemisms of the first war used to refer to torture techniques are paralleled in Arabic for the brutalities of the new military order. Parallels in the political dimension were also addressed, comparing the French amnesty for crimes in the first war (1964/66) with the “law of clemency” for Islamist guerrillas in Algeria in 1995. I also advanced a new and original metaphorical reading of a key passage in Camus’ L’Etranger, where the protagonist explains he committed murder “because of the sun” as emblematic of the blind submission to malign authority in the two wars. Such research, though addressed from different perspectives, complements the work of other Brighton researchers such as those concerned with identity and conflict in Ireland (Dr Graham Dawson) national identities in the face of global pressures (Dr Paul Hopper).