The surprising story of how Algeria joined and then left the postwar European Economic Community and what its past inclusion means for extracontinental membership in today’s European Union.
On their face, the mid-1950s negotiations over European integration were aimed at securing unity in order to prevent violent conflict and boost economies emerging from the disaster of World War II. But French diplomats had other motives, too. From Africa to Southeast Asia, France’s empire was unraveling. France insisted that Algeria—the crown jewel of the empire and home to a nationalist movement then pleading its case to the United Nations—be included in the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community. The French hoped that Algeria’s involvement in the EEC would quell colonial unrest and confirm international agreement that Algeria was indeed French.
French authorities harnessed Algeria’s legal status as an official département within the empire to claim that European trade regulations and labor rights should traverse the Mediterranean. Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany conceded in order to move forward with the treaty, and Algeria entered a rights regime that allowed free movement of labor and guaranteed security for the families of migrant workers. Even after independence in 1962, Algeria remained part of the community, although its ongoing inclusion was a matter of debate. Still, Algeria’s membership continued until 1976, when a formal treaty removed it from the European community.
The Seventh Member State combats understandings of Europe’s “natural” borders by emphasizing the extracontinental contours of the early union. The unification vision was never spatially limited, suggesting that contemporary arguments for geographic boundaries excluding Turkey and areas of Eastern Europe from the European Union must be seen as ahistorical.
Brown casts a new light on the history of European integration, bringing out the contorted effort of French leaders to insist that Algeria was an integral part of France at the same time that France was an integral part of Europe. Her story helps us understand still ongoing conflicts over colonialism, race, and economic interests.
An impressive book that makes a new and important contribution to the story of Algerian independence. Brown shows that the history of decolonization in Algeria was not only a question about citizenship, French sovereignty, and Algerian nationhood, but also a crucial arena for determining the meaning of European integration in the postwar decades. The book rests on a prodigious amount of archival work, but Brown wears her erudition lightly in prose that is clear, concise, and effective. I wholeheartedly recommend The Seventh Member State.
Brown explains brilliantly how the history of the European Union is linked to the imperial past of its member states. In retracing the forgotten story of Algerian membership in the European Community, she reinterprets the concept of Eurafrica, questioning the boundaries of Europe and the identities of European citizens. A fascinating new perspective on what European integration could have been.
Brown presents a new angle on European integration and the concept of Europe itself by calling attention to the ‘seventh member state,’ Algeria. This valuable work offers a striking example of how decolonization was more often than not a protracted and messy process rather than a straightforward transfer of power. In a clear, brisk narrative, Brown also enlarges our understanding of the diplomatic context for the Algerian War, as well as the international dimensions of Algerian independence.
In this excellent book, Brown illuminates all the complexities and difficulties the six member states of the European Community, especially France, had to deal with when confronted with the decolonization of Algeria on the one hand and the European integration process on the other.
- 368 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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