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Fifty Years of The Battle of Algiers

Past as Prologue

2016
Author:

Sohail Daulatzai

Fifty Years of The Battle of Algiers

A fresh, important intervention into understanding our post-9/11 world

The Battle of Algiers has been embraced across the political spectrum and is widely considered one of the greatest political films of all time. With a philosophical nod to Frantz Fanon, Sohail Daulatzai demonstrates that tracing the film is more than an artifact of the past—it’s a prophetic testament to the present and a cautionary tale of an imperial future, as perpetual war has been declared on permanent unrest.

The Battle of Algiers, a 1966 film that poetically captures Algerian resistance to French colonial occupation, is widely considered one of the greatest political films of all time. With an artistic defiance that matched the boldness of the anticolonial struggles of the time, it was embraced across the political spectrum—from leftist groups like the Black Panther Party and the Palestine Liberation Organization to right-wing juntas in the 1970s and later, the Pentagon in 2003. With a philosophical nod to Frantz Fanon, Sohail Daulatzai demonstrates that tracing the film’s afterlife reveals a larger story about how dreams of freedom were shared and crushed in the fifty years since its release. As the War on Terror expands and the “threat” of the Muslim looms, The Battle of Algiers is more than an artifact of the past—it’s a prophetic testament to the present and a cautionary tale of an imperial future, as perpetual war has been declared on permanent unrest.


Forerunners: Ideas First is a thought-in-process series of breakthrough digital publications. Written between fresh ideas and finished books, Forerunners draws on scholarly work initiated in notable blogs, social media, conference plenaries, journal articles, and the synergy of academic exchange. This is gray literature publishing: where intense thinking, change, and speculation take place in scholarship.

Fifty Years of The Battle of Algiers

Sohail Daulatzai is associate professor at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of Black Star, Crescent Moon.

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