July 30, 2021

Benjamin Stora “builds bridges” between Algeria and France in “A voice nue”, on France Culture


At the mention of his name, one thinks of course of the report he submitted on January 20 to the President of the Republic on the memorial issues of colonization and the Algerian war. Benjamin Stora, through his works, alone embodies the history of contemporary Algeria, the country of his childhood. But can we reduce it to that? “I wanted us to meet Benjamin Stora, not the historian everyone knows”, announces documentary filmmaker Alain Lewkowicz. Mission accomplished during these two and a half hours of interview which give another dimension to time.

Read the interview with Benjamin Stora: “Algerians are waiting for a truth about their own history”

No pathos in the story of the « dispersion » caused by exile, the necessities of« acculturation », of “Repressions” to survive the painful ordeals … Paced by the turning points of a life of commitment, these extremely rare confidences are too short.

Read also: France-Algeria, “We must find the ‘right memory'”, according to Benjamin Stora

It all began in 1950 in the northeast of colonized Algeria, in Constantine, a city with a thousand-year-old past. In August 1955, the violence of what would later be called the “Algerian War” even entered his room. His family decides to go into exile. He recounts his arrival in France in the middle of summer vacation, in 1962.

Trotskyist commitment

As he turns the page on war, “Desocialization, loneliness” point for those who are educated in a completely different social environment than their own. “We had to repress” Arabic and its accent. Learn silence. “In Algeria, there was not much silence, between songs, prayers, community and family life. “

When his father Elie Stora was made redundant, his mother Marthe Zaoui was hired at the factory at the age of 50. The social question determined his Trotskyist political commitment on the eve of May 68. A commitment which brought him back to Algeria: he became a historian ” from the bottom “, he said.

Benjamin Stora, historian: “I understood that the history of emotions and interpersonal relationships was very important”

“I understood that the history of emotions and interpersonal relationships was very important. “ He turned his political page in the 1980s when the PS, “Catch-all movement”, comes to power “Not necessarily to change society”. Then begins a new life at the university.

In the last episode of the series, the black decade of the 1990s puts Algeria back on the front of the stage in France. The desire to “Reconcile, repair, build bridges, move forward” remains intact despite a “Clock blocked” to the “Ideological disputes of the 1960s”, “As if de Gaulle had just escaped an attack by the OAS”.

Benjamin Stora, journey to the end of Algeria … and the class struggle, series of interviews produced by Alain Lewkowicz, carried out by Delphine Lemer (Fr., 2021, 5 x 29 min) as part of the program “A voix nue”. Available as a podcast on France Culture.