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. But in the 50 years since its release, Sohail Daulatzai argues that the Battle of Algiers is still being waged, as the “War on Terror” intensifies and police powers proliferate from Gaza to Ferguson to Ayotzinapa and beyond.
In detailing the production history of the film and the political context of Third World decolonisation in which it emerged, Sohail Daulatzai explores how the film was banned in several countries and embraced across the political spectrum — as a source of inspiration from leftist groups like the Black Panther Party, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and the Grammy Award winning group Rage Against the Machine, to a training manual for counterinsurgency by right-wing juntas in South America in the 1970s, to the Israeli military, and later, the U.S. Pentagon in 2003.
With a philosophical nod to Frantz Fanon, Daulatzai traces the film’s afterlife, and reveals a larger global story about how freedom dreams 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.
- Sohail Daulatzai, writer of 50 Years of The Battle of Algiers; Black Star Crescent Moon; Return of the Mecca; Born to Use Mics; Liner Notes Rage Against the Machine; Histories Absolved & lecturer in Black radicalism and internationalism, Muslim Studies, critical race studies, U.S. imperial culture, cultural studies, decolonisation at the University of California, Irvine.
- Hicham Yezza, founder and editor-in-chief of Ceasefire, is a writer and activist based in the UK. He is a regular commentator and speaker on politics, the media and civil liberties. He writes a fortnightly column on the Middle East and North Africa for openDemocracy. He was also one of the Nottingham Two, who was wrongly arrested in May 2008 for suspected involvement in terrorist activity.
- Tanzil Chowdhury completed his doctorate in law at the University of Manchester in 2016 and is a research associate at Birmingham Law School. His research lies in Post-Colonial Legal Theory, Constitutionalism & the UK’s War Powers on which he has published. He also co-founded the Northern Police Monitoring Project (@npolicemonitor) and help set up the Greater Manchester Law Centre (@gmlawcentre).
- Halimo Hussain is the Co-President Equality & Liberation at SOAS Student Union and founding member of the Decolonising Our Minds Society.
- Asim Qureshi, Research Director at CAGE, an independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the “War on Terror”. The organisation highlights and campaigns against state policies, developed as part of the “War on Terror”, striving for a world free from oppression and injustice.
Chaired by Malia Bouattia and Co-hosted by CAGE
Brunei Gallery SOAS
Time and date:
Wed 14 February 2018 @ 18:00 GMT
CC image courtesy of Flickr – Père Ubu
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