In his essay “Algeria’s European Minority,” Frantz Fanon vividly describes a process of nation building. As the independence movement gradually erodes the structure of the colonial society that has been based upon the notion of absolute difference between colonizers and the colonized, European minorities in Algeria shed their old sense of who they are, identify themselves as Algerians, and get accepted as fellow citizens. “In the new society that is being built,” Fanon avers, “there are only Algerians. From the outset, therefore, every individual living in Algeria is an Algerian. In tomorrow’s independent Algeria it will be up to every Algerian to assume Algerian citizenship or to reject it in favor of another” (152). This essay is moving, because of Fanon’s firm belief that the project of nation-building can renew people’s sense of belonging and thereby create a new, more inclusive and egalitarian society. At the same time, the essay is all the more poignant because subsequent history has seen too many tragic cases in which decolonization only leads to violent ethnic conflicts. Read with hindsight, Fanon’s essay raises questions as to what has gone wrong.
Transnational Imaginaries of M. G. Vassanji: Diaspora, Literature, and Culture