The French citrus industry in Algeria grew rapidly in terms of land area and fruit production from the 1930s until Algerian Independence in 1962. This article contends that technical expertise regarding citrus cultivation played a role in colonial control of Algeria’s territory, population, and economy. The French regime enrolled Algerian fruit in biopolitical interventions on rural ways of life in Algeria and urban standards of living in France. Technical manuals written by state-affiliated agronomists articulated racial distinctions between French settlers and Algerian peasants through attention to labor practices in the groves. A complex legal, technological, and administrative infrastructure facilitated the circulation of citrus fruit across the Mediterranean and into metropolitan France. This nexus of scientific research, economic profit, and racial hierarchy met criticism during the Algerian War for Independence. In the aftermath, expert discussions about citrus production reflected uncertainties and tensions regarding Algeria’s future. Citrus’ place in scientific, technological, and economic changes in twentieth-century Algeria illuminates the politics of technical expertise under colonialism and during decolonization.
“A Ray of Sunshine on French Tables”: Citrus Fruit, Colonial Agronomy, and French Rule in Algeria (1930–1962)
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Austin R. Cooper; “A Ray of Sunshine on French Tables”: Citrus Fruit, Colonial Agronomy, and French Rule in Algeria (1930–1962). Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 1 June 2019; 49 (3): 241–272. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/hsns.2019.49.3.241
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