Bonapartism in Algeria: empire and sovereignty before the Third Republic

Bonapartism in Algeria: empire and sovereignty before the Third Republic Abstract Between 1852 and 1870, Napoleon III and his Bonapartist entourage successfully established a Second Napoleonic Empire that encouraged a ‘cult of the emperor’, emphasizing the strong and even mystical bond between the sovereign and the people. While the ‘spectacular politics’ of the Bonapartist regime have been examined in detail, far less attention has been given to how Bonapartist patriotism was applied within a colonial context and, more specifically, in relation to Algeria. This article examines iterations of Bonapartist dynastic patriotism and nationalist politics in North Africa. It argues that an evaluation of French imperial sovereignty and practices in the years prior to the Third Republic can help to diversify our understanding of the French colonial experience and propose models that diverged from the narrative of republican colonialism in crucial ways during the post-revolutionary period. At 5:30am on the morning of 3 May 1865 the sound of cannon fire was heard echoing along the coastal ports of Algiers. The thunderous shots signalled the appearance of the imperial yacht coming into port, and an hour later Napoleon III stepped foot on Algerian soil for the first time in five years to cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur’.1 To commemorate the emperor’s visit to the colony, public celebrations abounded during each day, with regal displays of French military prowess staged by the army and Muslim subjects entertaining guests with horseback-riding demonstrations. In the evenings, the public buildings and mosques of the capital were illuminated with dazzling pale light. ‘It really was an enchanted spectacle’, the newly appointed governor-general Patrice de Mac-Mahon admitted when reflecting on the events.2 Napoleon III was the first head of state to visit the Algerian colony acquired by France in 1830. His two state visits during the 1860s signalled Algeria’s growing importance in both France’s expanding colonial empire and sense of national prestige. For colonists, the emperor’s visits were hailed as momentous events. His presence not only symbolized Algeria’s importance to the mother country; it also offered colonists an opportunity to make known their aspirations for assimilation and civil equality with their compatriots across the Mediterranean.3 Above all, however, the occasion offered colonists a chance to demonstrate their patriotism to the emperor in person, affirming that they were a single French people united in their love and devotion to a common sovereign. Describing the fanfare that accompanied the emperor’s arrival, the journalist Joseph Guérin vividly captured the mood of the occasion, reporting: ‘the crowd was only a single soul and it emerges in the cry repeated a thousand times over of Vive l’Empereur!’4 Yet the pomp and festivities staged to welcome the emperor concealed an underlying anxiety that had been brewing in the colony since his previous visit in 1860. During the interval, Napoleon III had announced his latest Algerian policy, dictating, to the consternation of many colonists and high-ranking military officials, that Algeria was to be considered an ‘Arab Kingdom’ rather than a French colony ‘strictly speaking’. The tone of his speeches while touring the colony reflected this new outlook, evincing a noticeable concern with Algeria’s vast Muslim majority and a commitment to regenerating an indigenous Arab nationality. ‘When France placed its foot on African soil thirty-five years ago,’ he declared before an audience of Muslim, Jewish and European subjects assembled in Algiers, ‘it did not come to destroy the nationality of a people but, on the contrary, to lift this people from an old oppression.’5 Such pronouncements were a far cry from the emperor’s bold statement in 1852 pledging that ‘across from Marseille we have a vast territory to assimilate to France’.6 These apparent incongruities say much about the Bonapartist movement in France. Originating with Napoleon I and persisting under subsequent regimes during the post-revolutionary period, Bonapartism, as a political movement and ideology, has often been characterized by a ‘permanent ambiguity’.7 The political eclecticism encouraged by leading Bonapartist ideologues and the absence of any definitive Bonapartist party in the country have made pinning down the core ideological tenets associated with Bonapartism exceedingly difficult.8 To some degree, the elusive nature of Bonapartism stems from its ‘remarkably plastic and synthetic qualities’, which permitted the Second Napoleonic Empire, created in 1852, to draw upon traditional monarchical and imperial discourses while equally promoting democratic and nationalist policies.9 Without doubt, the seeming contradictions of the Second Empire were many: it reached out to liberals and conservatives, urban workers and the rural peasantry alike; it promoted the industrial sciences and nationalism while simultaneously cultivating relations with Catholic leaders and religious notables; it presented itself as a populist government while maintaining a regal court culture.10 Given these contradictions, Juliette Glikman’s assertion that the ‘Napoleonic idea’ was more a ‘fluid system of representations’ than a rigid political doctrine appears apposite.11 At base, however, Bonapartism rested upon a specific idea of the sovereign that sacralized the relationship between emperor and subject. Its ability to identify with different social and ideological groups was one of its hallmark features, presenting a political model that deviated from strict Rousseauist ideas of republican unity promoted during the French Revolution in significant ways. Although conventional narratives present the modern ‘nation form’ sweeping away older arrangements vested in confessional, local or dynastic identification, in reality imperial and dynastic models continued to predominate over communitarian ideas of nationhood or isonomic republican principles in the post-revolutionary period.12 The First Napoleonic Empire showed itself willing to promote a brand of ‘cosmopolitanism’ in Egypt and Europe consistent with multi-ethnic empires such as those governed by the Habsburgs and Ottomans. Different ethnic and confessional groups were, to varying degrees, tolerated and administered through distinct state institutions, contrary to republican notions of civic uniformity.13 Throughout the nineteenth century imperial and monarchical forms persisted in tandem with nationalizing tendencies, and French Bonapartism was no difference in this respect. It oriented itself towards a polity and style of rule which Daniel Unowsky has identified as state or ‘dynastic patriotism’.14 At its centre stood the sovereign, reimagined as a veritable icon embodying all the attachment to people and country that the term ‘patriotism’ evoked. The festivities, political speeches and cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur’ that accompanied the imperial visits to Algeria during the 1860s revealed this ‘dynastic patriotism’ in action. That said, scholars have rarely considered the implication of Algeria when considering Bonapartism. Post-revolutionary French imperialism has only recently begun to receive more thorough attention from historians.15 David Todd’s acknowledgement of a ‘French imperial meridian’ has proposed a framework in which to consider how regimes prior to the Third Republic imagined the modern colonial empire and contributed to the making of a national colonial culture.16 Examining Bonapartism in its Algerian iterations furnishes a context in which to evaluate key themes of imperial sovereignty and dynastic patriotism that played a central role in this process. At its core, Bonapartism provided an adaptable model that mixed ideas of revolutionary nationalism and dynastic loyalty in equal measure and was thus able to rule over a multi-ethnic empire. Its ability to draw upon pre-established political rituals and blend them with orientalist and colonial themes is suggestive of the ideological elasticity that characterized the movement. During the 1860s, Algerian officials and colonists showed a willingness to adopt the Bonapartist script. Publicists and colonial interest groups relied heavily upon prevailing discourses of Bonapartist democracy in framing requests for representative institutions throughout the decade. Local officials organized and shared in the celebrations of national-imperial sovereignty staged during the state visits, repeatedly emphasizing Algeria’s special relationship with France through Napoleonic symbols and mass expressions of dynastic loyalty. In making appeals to Algeria’s native population, ceremonies readily evoked memories of the Napoleonic Egyptian expedition. Aspirations of ‘regenerating’ a decadent Orient and attempts to paint Napoleon III as an ‘Arab’ emperor consciously harkened back to Napoleon I’s earlier efforts at ‘playing Muslim’, inscribing the process of Algerian colonization within the context of a veritable Bonapartist tradition.17 These manifestations of Bonapartist political culture not only provided a conceptual space for the representation of Algeria within public life; they also hinted at an alternative vision of colonial empire distinct from republican ideas vested in citizenship and assimilation. French colonial studies have often highlighted struggles over political rights and the inability to square a secular, universalist ideology with the realities of imperial diversity. In this regard, historians have drawn attention to the inequalities and exclusionary practices that routinely pitted a white European settler community invested with rights against a disenfranchised colonized population. While these inequalities should not be ignored or trivialized, they are part of a larger narrative that has sought to explain, whether explicitly or implicitly, the shortcomings of the republican civilizing mission and the many contradictions it engendered.18 This conclusion was, however, never predetermined. Prior to the founding of the Third Republic, republican discourses vied with competing ideologies and nation-building programmes. Debates over rights and citizenship existed alongside rival iterations of sovereignty, entailing that republican colonialism was only one among various imperial imaginaries in the nineteenth century.19 Bonapartism proposed a system capable of governing a multi-ethnic state and held out the possibility of an imperial polity that blended democratic practices with dynastic authority. Only after 1870 did republican isonomy and assimilation became the predominant elements of a colonial state and culture that have since assumed primacy in our understanding of the French imperial experience. Taking the idea of a ‘French imperial meridian’ seriously entails looking beyond the discourses of French republicanism and accounting for the divergent articulations of imperial sovereignty that shaped the evolution and practices of empire in France. An assessment of Bonapartist political culture in Algeria permits us to reconstruct an alternative vision of empire that paralleled nineteenth-century republican colonialism, contextualizing the demands for rights and inclusion that routinely burdened the république coloniale over the course of its existence. With the establishment of universal manhood suffrage in 1848, French politics assumed an imminently popular and democratic character in spirit if not in practice. The Bonapartists of the mid-nineteenth century understood this new political culture perfectly. They adeptly employed symbols and mass spectacles to create and sustain a Second Napoleonic Empire that was progressive yet authoritarian in character.20 Through a series of national referendums, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte legitimated his illegal coup d’état in 1851 and founded the imperial government a year later with popular support. He was hardly being flippant when he appeared before the assembly in the spring of 1852 and remarked ‘the head of state you have before you is the expression of the popular will’.21 In the terms of Bonapartist democracy, the people had empowered the government through a single vote, ‘clear, simple, and understood by all’, rendering the new Napoleon a manifestation of the general will.22 As one propagandist put it bluntly, ‘Bonapartism is now what it has always professed to be, the legitimate representative of national sovereignty.’23 Studies on Bonapartism and the Second Empire have frequently stressed the national tenor of imperial politics, especially in relation to the specific conception of national sovereignty that underwrote the idea and practice of Bonapartist democracy. The Bonapartist revival was a product of the nationalist resurgence that grew up during the 1840s and consciously presented itself as a popular movement with deep roots in the French national soil.24 ‘Before [the empire] rallied all the forces of the nation, it was born in the cottages of the people’, proclaimed the inveterate Bonapartist, the duc de Persigny.25 This rhetoric extended beyond simple veneration for the French nation and people. From its origins in the late eighteenth century, Bonapartism had persistently emphasized the strong and even ‘sacred’ link that united sovereign and people. This pact was a consistent centrepiece of Bonapartist political discourse throughout much of the century.26 It rested upon the belief that the emperor, empowered through national referendums, faithfully represented the sentiments and will of the nation. It was this peculiar mix of Rousseauist volunteerism and executive autonomy that gave Bonapartism its distinct character and ideological import.27 Efforts to objectify this sacred bond drew upon pre-established political rituals and discourses inherited from the past, most importantly the festivals of the French Revolution. Revolutionaries of the late eighteenth century employed the fête révolutionnaire to convey the ‘transfer of the sacred’ to the secular domain of the national community that lay at the heart of the revolutionary programme. Celebrations incarnated abstractions such as ‘the people’ and ‘the nation’, affirming their indivisible unity through the shared enthusiasm and spontaneous participation of individuals.28 Such ‘festivals of sovereignty’ have been closely associated with the French republican tradition and, according to Alain Corbin, remain distinct from the ‘Caesarist’ festivities of the Bonapartists that tended to celebrate the sovereign power of the individual ruler over the community.29 This dichotomy is not, however, wholly accurate. Bonapartists at mid-century combined various political traditions and discourses, commonly presenting ideas of sovereignty that were pluralistic and moulded to accommodate local contexts.30 More broadly, ‘civic enthusiasm’ is hardly an accurate gauge for measuring ideological adhesion or political fervour, as Nicolas Marinot has argued. In reality, political festivals reflect the ‘decorative formalism’ of rituals and collective actions that condition normative gestures and behaviours written into the fabric of a political culture. If Bonapartism prized a ceremonial politics that drew upon revolutionary concepts of sovereignty, it concerned itself with external manifestations of devotion that were often curated in advance.31 These ‘depersonalized’ expressions of loyalty were consistent with Bonapartist conceptions of citizenship that favoured centralized authority and ministerial prerogative over active political engagement well into the 1860s. This situation only began to change after 1866 as the government pursued a more liberal orientation.32 Festivities consciously focused attention on the emperor and dynasty. During the 1850s and 1860s, Napoleon III appeared regularly at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and national exhibitions throughout the country. Even when absent, the sovereign was evoked in speeches or represented on ceremonial medals distributed at events. Statesmen used recourse to old Napoleonic memories to impart an imminently national character to the Second Empire and instructed officials to appeal to ‘the Napoleonic sentiment of the people’ at every opportunity.33 Public festivities regularly featured imperial eagles and large letter Ns adorning buildings while Napoleon I’s birthday was made an official fête nationale in the hope of replacing the collective memory of the revolution with that of the First Empire and Bonaparte family.34 Focusing attention on the Napoleonic cult, Bonapartist ideologues endeavoured to present the family as a national dynasty, one capable of attracting support from monarchists who had never accepted the nation’s republican heritage. They were careful to avoid the conservative and aristocratic royalism of the former Bourbon line, distinguishing the Bonapartes as a popular dynasty endowed with the necessary esprit national and patriotism capable of uniting the nation.35 ‘The Napoleonic dynasty, deriving from the ranks of the nation, cannot forget that it belongs to everyone’, as one writer stated.36 These iterations of national sovereignty and dynastic heritage were hardly a clumsy attempt to dress royal pretensions in a national garb. By its very nature, Bonapartist politics relied upon a distinct style of public spectacle and nationalism centred on the figure of the sovereign and his link to the people.37 It was an affective politic based as much on emotional attachment to the leader as on synthetic ideological content. As late as 1870, the journalist and politician Adolphe Granier de Cassagnac testified to the resilience of the Bonaparte cult, insisting that the majority of French peasants cared little for day-to-day politics or debates in the Corps législatif: ‘The rural populations know only the Emperor, want only him and will vote only for him.’38 Napoleon III’s persona was important to the vitality of the new government. Public appearances by the emperor were routinely detailed in newspaper accounts and imperial travel literature, both of which served as important channels of government propaganda. At the inauguration of the Boulevard de Sébastopol in Paris in 1858, the pro-imperial newspaper Le Constitutionnel drew attention to the enthusiasm of the crowd, insisting, ‘Nation and Emperor think and act with the same confidence and the same sympathy.’39 In an account of the emperor’s tour of the empire in the autumn of 1860, authors did not fail to emphasize the ‘immense crowd’ that turned out to greet the imperial family at Lyon or the ‘impatient cries’ of those waiting to catch a glimpse of their leader.40 Moving on to Avignon, the family received an ‘enthusiastic welcome’ from thousands of spectators, while days later the imperial palace in Corsica was thronged by a ‘passionate crowd’ expressing their devotion to the sovereign.41 Lively descriptions—and inflated statistics—of excited crowds clamouring to welcome the emperor were a common trope in newspaper accounts. Vivid illustrations frequently accompanied the descriptions that appeared in book form during the 1850s and 1860s. Whether in word or image, such media was intended to provide readers with a virtual experience, allowing them to participate vicariously in the ecstasy of the crowd and partake in the scared link uniting sovereign and people. More than simply propaganda, newspaper accounts and imperial travel literature were part and parcel of the Bonapartist political culture and ritualized politics elaborated during the mid-nineteenth century. In some instances, authors barely disguised their motivations. In his account of the emperor’s trip to Algeria in 1865, René de Saint-Félix spelt out in no uncertain terms the importance he attributed to the official visit. His tome was intended to show that ‘the love of the populations, already so profoundly attached to the Napoleonic dynasty, has been reinforced in seeing this strong monarch’. While modesty compelled Saint-Félix to assure his readers that his account contained only ‘sincere and disinterested considerations’, the didactic intent of the work was not hard to mistake. In the author’s own words, the book aimed to: teach many of our citizens, not only to love the Emperor—the voice of the people has already proven the unanimity of their sentiments—but to better understand and comprehend the providential man who, retaking the hereditary sceptre, has committed himself to leading France along the path of justice, glory and prosperity.42 Saint-Félix’s Napoléon III en Algérie was one of the more blatantly Bonapartist pieces of imperial travel literature to appear in the 1860s, but others similarly linked themes of public visibility, dynastic patriotism and imperial sovereignty in more nuanced ways. Saint-Félix’s account was not, however, complete fabrication. Bonapartist pageantry was in full display during the two official trips to Algeria. Upon disembarking from the imperial yacht in 1860, the mayor of Algiers greeted the imperial family and presented Napoleon III with the key to the city. Before a crowd amassed on the waterfront, he insisted, ‘It is from the depth of our heart that, all together, soldiers and citizens, we cry: Vive l’Empereur!’ Much as Joseph Guérin would indicate five years later, it was through a mutual devotion to the emperor that the unity of the Algerian people was made manifest. This ardour carried over into the official ceremonies staged during the imperial family’s visit. As the imperial couple laid the cornerstone of the newly planned Boulevard de l’Impératrice in the city, the ‘enraptured’ crowd once again assumed centre stage. ‘It is easy to see that a violent emotion agitates [the crowd] and that it makes every effort to contain it’, one account reported.43 Testaments of impassioned onlookers with tears of joy streaming down their cheeks and uttering zealous cries of affection conformed to the Bonapartist script of national sovereignty and dynastic patriotism. ‘It was like an electrical commotion’, claimed one writer when describing the emperor’s appearance in Boufarik. ‘Every soul vibrated in unison and joy overflowed in every heart—a bursting, communicative joy bordering on delirium.’44 Yet if these visits to the colony bore the familiar marks of Bonapartist political ritual with such outward displays of devotion and enthusiasm, there was a noticeable difference with regard to the Algerian crowds. Whereas ‘the crowd’ was often depicted as a homogenous body in France, observers were quick to note the diversity found among the crowds that turned out in Algeria. The mix of French, European and native spectators all scrambling to catch a glimpse of the sovereign possessed ‘a character as moving as it is pittoresque’, according to one commentator.45 As a colonial society, Algeria comprised a mosaic of French, Spanish, Maltese, Geek and Italian settlers, not to mention the Turkic peoples remaining from years of Ottoman rule and the sizeable Arab and Berber populations indigenous to the region. Visitors and officials commonly remarked on the variegated nature of the colonial population, finding ‘a strange, quaint and dazzling multiplicity’, a ‘veritable Babel’ of dress and languages or ‘a human kaleidoscope’.46 Allusions to North African diversity were not, however, merely descriptive. Rather, they reiterated popular perceptions of oriental heterogeneity, implying that Algerian inhabitants lacked a national consciousness capable of constituting a proper nation.47 In ‘civilizing’ Algeria, France was committed to a project of oriental ‘regeneration’, a mission interpreted in terms of bequeathing a national identity and unity to a hopelessly divided society. ‘All the people of diverse origins, mores, customs, languages, races and religions [will] form only a single people: the Algerian people’, extolled the colonial publicist Jules Duval in 1852. Such would be ‘the capital work of France in the nineteenth century’.48 Bonapartist discourse added a specific twist to aspirations for Algerian unity. Beside the fusion promised by a common French language and nationality rested the relationship between subject and sovereign central to Bonapartist ideology. The two were not mutually exclusive and could support one another. In 1865, the mayor of Chéragas outside Algiers stated as much, noting in his address to the emperor that while Algeria was diverse it nevertheless possessed a unity in and through the sovereign: ‘You find here a population which although of different races and origins comes together under a single flag, that of France, and knows only a Sovereign that it acclaims at this moment.’49 Other demonstrations of unity could, however, prioritize the sovereign over assumptions of national or cultural unity. In 1860, when colonial subjects erected mock Arc de Triomphes in anticipation of Napoleon III’s visit, each ethnic group presented their own version of this Napoleonic monument, outfitting it with stylistic flourishes evincing unique Spanish, Jewish or Arabic influences.50 In 1865, Spanish colonists in Oran used the occasion to dress up in Spanish national costumes and interspersed acclaim for Napoleon III with violent denunciations of the Spanish Queen Isabella.51 The fact that the emperor met separately with Arab, Kabyle and Jewish delegations during the course of his visit only highlighted the complexities that Bonapartist discourse invited. In a multi-ethnic society such as Algeria, the question of what, in fact, constituted this envisaged national unity was never clear cut. Under the circumstances, devotion to the sovereign and devotion to a French patrie might not be one and the same. Although Bonapartism did rely on specific ritual forms and scripts, the state visits to Algeria occurred within a specific context that conditioned expressions of sovereignty in the colony. Over the course of the 1850s and 1860s, the ‘Algerian question’ divided metropolitan and colonial officials into opposing colon and arabophile camps that roughly corresponded to conflicts over civilian and military rule in the colony. The creation of the Ministry of Algeria and the Colonies in 1858 under Prince Jérôme Napoleon initially appeared to settle the issue in favour of the settlers. The ministry unequivocally endorsed expanding colonial settlement, native assimilation and the reduction of military influence over policymaking.52 French laws and civil government would ‘eliminate the barriers separating Arab society from our own’, as one official proclaimed.53 The Arab Offices in the military disagreed, insisting assimilation and unbridled colonization would only serve to generate ethnic tensions and subject Algerian natives to the whims of a European minority. Ismael Urbain, chief spokesman for the arabophile camp, argued that equitable treatment and native social integration offered a more conciliatory approach that would ‘fuse’ the diverse populations of the colony into a single community. ‘Algeria for the Algerians’ became a slogan of the group, which claimed to protect Arab nationality and Muslim society from an oppressive European colonialism.54 These appeals to protecting an endangered Arab nationality struck a sympathetic chord with certain sectors of French public opinion, and in particular resonated with Napoleon III and his promotion of nationalité at home and abroad.55 Tensions ran high in the colony, and Napoleon III’s ambiguous position on Algeria elicited a great deal of anxiety on both sides. The conflict between colons and arabophiles has been well documented. Needless to say, this ideological sparring furnished the backdrop against which the state visits in 1860 and 1865 took place. According to Michel Levallois, the two factions each played an instrumental role in the imperial visits as they attempted to shape official opinion.56 Each camp certainly endeavoured to impress their views upon the emperor, but the means through which they did so were important and reflected the multiple ways the Bonapartist script could be moulded to fit particular contexts and meanings. Arabophiles and military officials connected with the Arab Offices consciously invoked Bonapartist models of sovereignty in their arguments. Their defence of Arab nationality not only accorded with the Second Empire’s veneration of nationalité; it was also consistent with prevailing ideas of Napoleonic leadership. Bonapartist ideology was dependent upon incarnating the special relationship linking sovereign and people, and this premise offered a model capable of organizing a diverse imperial community spanning the Mediterranean. A nominally ‘Arab’ constituency constituted one community among a constellation of others, all associated through the imperial sovereign. While ‘Arab’ nationality was a creation of the Arab Offices and encompassed a heterogeneous North African population consisting of Turks and Berbers who neither spoke Arabic nor identified with an Arab ethnicity, it offered the possibility of recognizing Algerian natives as a distinct national group existing alongside the European settler population.57 Convincing the emperor of this Arab nationality constituted one of the principal strategies of the arabophile faction. During the 1860 visit, the military put on daily performances for the imperial entourage that exhibited the ‘native’ character of Algerian society. At the centre of these festivities was the fantasia, a traditional Arab performance enacted by the various chasseurs d’Afrique, sipahis and native colonial recruits (goums) under military supervision. The spectacle featured demonstrations of Arab horsemanship and gunmen firing off blanks and entertaining spectators with acrobatic tricks. In total, some five thousand natives participated in the event, including Arab marksmen, cavalry and regular troops. Despite the entertainment value of the fantasia, the event was carefully choreographed to showcase the martial skill and discipline of the colonial regiments. Cavalry assembled in battle formations, engaged in simulated attacks, followed the orders of division commanders and let out cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur!’ on cue. The visiting journalist Auguste Vitu was astonished to discover that ‘this sort of game has its rules fixed in advance’ and was not executed pêle-mêle.58 In particular, the participation of the Kabyle people was most revealing. Having fiercely resisted French forces in the Atlas Mountains during the 1850s, the Kabyle were a ‘freshly conquered’ people.59 By partaking in the festivities and demonstrating their loyalty to the emperor, it was evident they had been won over to French civilization and desired to ‘efface the memories of times past’.60 The message was clear: the Kabyle were now obedient imperial subjects under the aegis of the Arab Offices.61 According to Fabrice Labrousse, correspondent for the metropolitan daily La Presse, the military had visibly imposed organization and structure on ‘masses accustomed to irregular procedures’.62 The once ‘fanatical’ Muslim had been transformed into a dutiful soldier, holding out the prospect for such people’s progressive integration within the ranks of the military and colonial society more generally.63 Such spectacles spoke to the martial culture and pageantry of the Napoleonic tradition, but they also fed into a more basic assumption encouraged by arabophile spokesmen: as a recognized sovereign of North African peoples, Napoleon III was in essence an ‘Arab’ emperor. This central message was reiterated in the coming years as Napoleon III dismantled the civilian colonial administration set-up in 1858 and proclaimed Algeria an ‘Arab Kingdom’. After 1863, arabophiles began pushing through policies aimed at integrating natives, bolstering cooperation with Muslim religious notables and ‘regenerating’ a decadent Arab nationality, all with the endorsement of the emperor. ‘The natives, like the colonists, have an equal right to my protection’, declared Napoleon III. ‘I am the Emperor of the Arabs just as I am the Emperor of the French.’64 This reinvention of the sovereign disregarded the continuity evident in Algerian colonial policy throughout much of the century. From 1851 onwards, the colonial regime exercised increasing administrative control over Algerian Islam through the creation of a culte musulman which gave the government powers to appoint top religious officials, direct Islamic education and maintain mosques and religious institutions. This ‘Jacobin centralization’ was unknown to the Muslim world and marked a colonial innovation rather than the conservation of ‘tradition’.65 In a similar fashion, the 1863 sénatus-consulte altered traditional Arab landholding practices, authorizing the break-up of tribal territories and introducing individual proprietary requirements that facilitated land transactions with European speculators.66 Claims to ‘protect’ or conserve a traditional Arab nationality perennially ran up against the systemic colonial logic of the Algerian state. All the same, the vision of Napoleon III as an Arab ‘protector’ did resonate within ceremonial politics and projections of sovereignty as Napoleon III met with tribal leaders and sheikhs, accepted gifts and bestowed Napoleonic medals and awards on Algerian natives. The Arab Offices played a direct role in staging these events, especially during the prolonged 1865 visit. Commanders in the Arab Offices coordinated efforts with the subdivisions, instructing them on the formalities of public receptions and arrangements regarding native escorts selected to accompany the emperor on his travels. In some instances, these instructions even extended to what clothing natives were to wear during public celebrations. As General Deligny, the bureau commander in Oran, insisted, there was to be a ‘unity of action’ across the various receptions and festivities.67 ‘Designated natives’—prominent Arab notables, native commanders and Muslim religious officials—were ordered to be present in places scheduled on the emperor’s itinerary.68 The Arab Offices even supervised the presentations of awards at ceremonies, selecting which natives were to be awarded what prizes by the emperor and in what fashion.69 In 1860, Fabrice Labrousse had congratulated the military regime for presenting the emperor with a faithful representation of Arab society, stating that ‘this mise en œuvre [was] one of the most ingenious aspects of the festivities’.70 Five years later, the administration aimed to capitalize on this impression. For the emperor’s scheduled trip through Bône in late May, the Arab Office in Constantine even ordered officials to make sure that a delegation of Bedouins was on hand with a sufficient gift (diffa) for the sovereign. More importantly, they were to look nomadic. Falcons, feathered hats, wiry greyhound dogs: ‘everything that will give the Emperor a scene of desert life’, the directive claimed.71 While perceptions of ‘authentic’ Arab culture remained highly stylized and consistent with the nineteenth-century culture of orientalism, these performances and rituals were more than expressions of colonial exoticism. They reflected the ‘scientific orientalism’ of both the Académie and colonial officialdom that prided itself on its intimate knowledge of and familiarity with Arab society. It aimed to combat the negative stereotypes of ‘colonial orientalism’ rife with notions of Eastern ‘barbarism’ and inferiority and replace it with an idea of Arab nationality capable of regeneration through France’s ‘civilizing’ work.72 This orientalism was pressed into service and used by officials to craft an image of Napoleon III as a nominally Arab ruler. Such an image testified to an imperial rather than strictly ‘colonial’ culture in which the public figure of the sovereign was capable of representing and embodying multiple forms of attachment befitting a multi-ethnic empire.73 Moreover, as journalists and commentators noted, the image of ‘le sultan Napoléon’ was a convincing one that assumed substance through the public presence and visibility of the sovereign.74 ‘Before the arrival of the Emperor the Arabs showed themselves very avid to see His Imperial Majesty, but they continued to call him le sultan kebir des Roumis [Sultan of the Romans]’, one newspaper stated in 1860. ‘Today, they all call him “our Emperor”.’75 This sentiment was repeated in 1865 when Napoleon III attended a fantasia on route to Batna in which Arab cavalrymen enacted public professions of loyalty to their sovereign. As the writer Florian Pharaon remarked, ‘For the first time, the great Arab families [of the region] acclaimed a Christian sovereign with enthusiasm.’76 Seemingly spontaneous acts of devotion by natives were also encouraged outside the more formal settings of public meetings and performances. On the way from Mostaganem to Rélizane in 1865, the imperial carriage was abruptly halted by a crowd of natives who prostrated themselves outside the city gates to request an act of clemency from their khalifa.77 In a similar fashion, near the village of Tlélat in Sidi-bel-Abbès a throng of Arabs approached the emperor and presented him with a petition requesting they be transferred from civilian to military jurisdiction. These natives, as one journalist observed, were not even from the region and were clearly a ploy by the military to convince the emperor that Algerians desired military rule.78 This accusation is hardly unjust, as the Arab Offices only allowed natives to present petitions to the emperor if they had been approved in advance by authorities and expressed the proper sentiments.79 Whether formalized or impromptu, these practices, ranging from dramatic expressions of loyalty to acts of petition, all accorded with the ritualistic forms of Bonapartist sovereignty and reinforced the ‘sacred’ link between ruler and people. The fête arabe staged during both imperial visits also incorporated religious spectacle, presenting Napoleon III not only as an Arab ruler but a guardian and benefactor of dar al-Islam. Speeches given to primarily Muslim audiences were peppered with Quranic verse and assurances that Muslims would be permitted to practise their religion under French aegis.80 ‘[These speeches] have provoked and led some to believe that the Emperor might well not be a Christian as previously supposed’, one colonist amusingly noted in 1865. ‘He is familiar with the Qur’an and not afraid to cite it.’81 In these addresses, Napoleon III affirmed his commitment to protecting Islam and made explicit allusion to Muhammad as a source of authority, underscoring his legitimacy as a Muslim ruler. ‘Your Prophet said: God gives the power to he who he wants. But in taking this power from him I seek to exercise it in your interest and for your wellbeing’, he stated. ‘You have understood that being your Sovereign, I am your protector.’82 These declarations were printed up, affixed to the walls of mosques and given ‘the greatest publicity’ among the native populations by the military.83 In tandem with these addresses, colonial officials employed religious pageantry and discourse to full effect in an effort to reify the image of le sultan Napoléon. In a highly choreographed performance, Napoleon III met with the head mufti at the Jamaa al-Jadid mosque in 1865, reiterating his assurance of France’s good faith vis-à-vis its Muslim subjects. Prayers were recited by religious officials as ‘the priests of Muhammad’ bestowed their blessing on the emperor. For a Bonapartist proponent like Saint-Félix, the congruities with Napoleon I’s abortive Egyptian campaign of 1798 only highlighted the sense of dynastic continuity that the regime coveted: ‘Dignified successor of his uncle, Napoleon III knew to speak to all his subjects according to their religion, habits and language.’84 Bonapartist ceremonial politics were never averse to mixing civic and religious festivities and had a history of working with Catholic officials at the local level in France.85 Indeed, this synergy was representative of the rich and pluralistic symbolism used by the regime to encourage support and engage with local communities. Islam was no different in this respect, and the administrative structures of the cult musulman permitted the state to instrumentalize Muslim piety in demonstrating its commitment to ‘Arab’ regeneration. The years of the Second Empire witnessed a significant increase in mosque restoration and construction. The Great Mosque of Algiers (Jamaa al-Kebir) took pride of place within these projects. As the Service des Bâtiments Civils noted, the building was not only ‘the most beautiful monument’ in Algiers but also ‘the most complete embodiment of Arab architecture’ in the colonial capital.86 This trend reversed former policies that had sanctioned the appropriation of Islamic cultural institutions and converted mosques into cathedrals. It also furnished the context in which a distinctly Arabo-Muslim Algerian patrimony could be imagined and developed.87 In September 1865, the military symbolically conveyed the turn towards the Arab Kingdom by formally relinquishing control over the El Maal mosque in Mostaganem, ‘returning’ it to the Muslim community.88 Under the Second Empire, Islam, like Catholicism, constituted one of the many registers of Bonapartist ceremonial politics, as concepts of sovereignty were reimagined and represented for multiple audiences across the French domain. European colonists were naturally averse to talk of Arab nationality and native integration, interpreting such policies as an affront to their aspirations for a French Algeria. Moreover, many settlers retained strong republican sympathies that did not necessarily mesh with Bonapartist notions of authority.89 Colonists had only marginally supported the coup d’état and the establishment of the Bonapartist regime in 1851. The majority of support had come from the countryside, which ‘advantageously counterbalanced the negative votes of the cities’, as Auguste Bourget, editor of the Algerian daily Akhbar, remarked.90 Notoriously famous for his ideological flexibility and ability to sense which way the political winds blew in France, Bourget became one of the foremost publicists of the Napoleonic regime in the colony in the early 1850s, adroitly crafting his position to the new political culture and taking up the Bonapartist script. He urged Algerian electors to ratify the new regime and rally to the ‘unanimous voice of the patrie’ in supporting Louis Napoleon Bonaparte.91 Following the Bonapartist victory of 1852 his paper carried detailed reports of the public celebrations organized in Algiers, describing scenes in which enthusiastic colonists displayed portraits of Napoleon in illuminated windows.92 Settlers consistently placed their hopes in the creation of an Algerian civilian administration, and the short-lived colonial ministry under Prince Napoleon, created in 1858, was initially hailed as a victory. The subsequent scaling back of these reforms in the 1860s brought anger and resentment. Civilian institutions synonymous with colon power were ‘merely a spectator’ in Algeria with no real authority, the journalist Arthur de Fonvielle complained.93 Possessing no political rights at the national level, and hence no actual power to influence policies applicable to the colony, colonists could only depend upon the good graces of the sovereign to enact legislation favourable to their interests. This situation only began to change in the late 1860s as the Second Empire liberalized. The pro-native position of the government entailed, however, that Muslims as well as Europeans were given rights to participate in municipal elections, drawing protest from European colons sensitive to demographic realities in the colony.94 Although the lack of political rights was a perennial grievance, settlers sought to circumvent this impediment by petitions. Colonial petitions sought to make known the interests and desires of colonists through extra-parliamentary means, and the practice gained greater currency as the emperor’s Arab Kingdom policy drove a wedge between the government and the settler population during the 1860s.95 If petitioning offered a means of giving voice to the silent colonial minority, the imperial visits provided an opportunity to articulate these concerns directly to the sovereign. More specifically, colonists had the chance to demonstrate their achievements and utility to the French imperial enterprise, an opportunity that had been missed in 1860. ‘It is essential that the Emperor, upon setting foot upon Algerian soil, not only witness the Arab sights organized for his visit’, Joseph Guérin urged his fellow colons in 1865.96 Reversing the Arab Kingdom required proving to the emperor that the settler community was engaged in the ‘civilizing’ work of modern colonialism. ‘These brave Algerian colons expect everything from this trip’, Arthur de Fonvielle observed.97 A book written in anticipation of the sovereign’s arrival readily agreed: ‘People are hoping without doubt that the presence of the Emperor will assure to Algeria a general period of improvement and a remedy to the particular suffering experienced across various urban localities.’98 Official descriptions of the visit in 1865 framed the event in just these terms, explaining that the emperor’s tour amounted to a personal inquest into the needs and potential of the colony. ‘I come among you to know your interests for myself’, Napoleon III stated when speaking to algérois colonists upon his arrival.99 Conscious of his audience, he also made references to Christianity and the ‘conquering race’, asserting to loud cheers, ‘We must be masters because we are the most civilized.’100 The ‘colonial’ tone of the address revealed the malleable nature of the imperial persona and contrasted sharply with the tone taken in his address to the Arabs given just two days later.101 Over the coming weeks, Napoleon III met with various local officials, attended Mass and toured colonial settlements.102 Mayors and functionaries performed the standard ceremonial rituals of leading calls of ‘Vive l’Empereur’, handing over keys to the city, accompanying the sovereign on inspection tours and giving scripted professions of loyalty. The perfunctory nature of these ceremonies resulted in a great deal of repetition and frequently exposed the overtly exterior manifestations of unity that Bonapartist celebrations commanded. ‘The mayors and official personnel really have to rack their brains’, Fonvielle scoffed. ‘They are obliged to follow the same script [tourner dans le même cercle] and the same ideas are invariably reproduced by them despite their best efforts.’103 Public officials were, he believed, ‘obligated by their position to compliment the Emperor’ and give declarations ‘in which the ideas are practically identical and the form, thanks to traditions of official phraseology, does not allow for much originality’.104 In his critique of colonial officialdom, Fonvielle clearly observed the ‘decorative formalism’ upon which representations of Bonapartist sovereignty relied. Its ceremonial politics drew upon a well-defined repertoire of ritualized gestures and rites that were, ultimately, institutionalized, and hence ‘depersonalized’.105 Acclamation of the sovereign followed an ideological script, and herein lay the problem according to Fonvielle. The mayors, the presidents of agricultural associations and the lower-ranking civil administrators were ‘utterly overpowered [écrasés]’ by the top colonial functionaries who commanded adherence to the Bonapartist script in public. Colons were forbidden from articulating their very real anxieties over the status of French Algeria and the fate of the settler community. The fête impériale was nothing but empty formalism. ‘Hardly are the last dust trails kicked up by the imperial carriage [after a visit] or the last lamps [illuminated during the festivities] extinguished before the anxiety reappears’, Fonvielle charged.106 Certain parties outside official circles did attempt to make their opinions known to the sovereign. A flurry of pamphlets and newspaper articles aimed to present colon wishes in a clear and consistent way, reiterating desires for a European civil administration and the political rights that belonged to all French citizens.107 Yet even if colon opinion operated largely outside the constraints of colonial officialdom, much of it remained shaped by the Bonapartist script. A journalist dedicated to the cause of colonial enfranchisement, Joseph Guérin consciously iterated his demands in the dominant idiom of Bonapartist political culture, employing patriotism and national unity to make a case for colonial civil and political rights. As he argued, colonists should be free to engage in municipal politics, which were neither based on factional ties nor party politics that might divide society: ‘Here we are all united because a single sentiment [animates us] … the desire to make a strong Algeria within France and to recognize in this manner what France will do for us.’ In Guérin’s appraisal, elected municipal bodies and local liberties were essential to the Bonapartist idea of sovereignty. Through elected bodies, the emperor would come to know the needs and desires of the colonial population, reinforcing that sacred relationship between sovereign and people. ‘Our Sovereign, who has wanted to be placed in direct communication with the population, can only persist in a way that gives truth free access to Him’, Guérin contended.108 In essence, what colonists were calling for was the creation of a trans-Mediterranean electorate, one afforded access to Algerian policymaking and, by proxy, incorporated into the bond uniting emperor and people. Colonists appealed to the democratic elements implicit in Bonapartism and emphasized their desire to communicate directly with their sovereign, yet arabophiles were quick to discount these appeal to liberty. If colons like Fonvielle criticized the empty rhetoric of colonial officials, arabophile critics were keen to direct this criticism right back at the colonists. ‘[They] bellow the cry of Vive l’Empereur on every occasion,’ Urbain ridiculed, ‘but they seek to hinder all serious reform through their secretive intrigues.’109 In the struggle to influence official opinion, colon spokesmen were forced to compete with a military bureaucracy that was better organized and benefited from directed access to the emperor. More broadly, however, that the European colonists were only one constituent part of Algerian society as the emperor was coming to imagine it remained a problem. The policy of the Arab Kingdom altered Algerian politics in significant ways, signalling Napoleon III’s willingness to see the colony as a multi-ethnic community defined by varied and particular relationships to a national dynasty. ‘I have Christian and Muslim children . . .’, he assured an audience of Algerian notables in 1865. ‘My justice will be equal for all.’110 Speeches and festivities staged for the sake of the native population certainly demonstrated Napoleon III’s skill at ‘playing Muslim’, but these efforts at self-fashioning were never divorced from the general conception of sovereignty adhered to by Bonapartists. During the state visit le sultan Napoléon also bestowed awards on European colonists, met with the Algerian archbishop and attended Mass in Algiers and Blida. If Napoleon III spoke the political language of Islam, he equally espoused the discourse of a Christian and national sovereign. In these various iterations of sovereignty, Napoleon III adroitly cultivated the image of a national monarch capable of uniting all the peoples of a diverse French Empire. In this context, Bonapartism elaborated and even prefigured many of the symbols and discourses that would characterize the ‘invented traditions’ and pageantry of royal government later in the century. The pretence of a Napoleonic sultan anticipated the Ottomanism and Islamism of the Hamidian era just as Bonapartist national dynasticism hinted at the ‘dynastic patriotism’ cultivated in the latter years of the Habsburg Empire.111 That the French polity would move in a decisively republican direction after 1870 should not obscure the continuities that exist with later developments across the continent, as absolutist regimes underwent a phase of ideological retrenchment to accommodate the currents of modern nationalism. The particular style of Bonapartist discourse lent itself to multiple representations of sovereignty that permitted Napoleon III to be, at once, a French and Arab emperor. These identities acquired their consistency through the public spectacles and pageantry staged during official visits to the colony. In festivities and official proclamations, the image promoted was that of a multi-ethnic French imperial community over a homogenous national one. Through its dynastic and patriotic elements, Bonapartism was capable of advancing a brand of imperial diversity that both spoke to republican ideas of national sovereignty while drawing upon older forms of corporatism and social exclusivity. Yet even as Bonapartist policies constructed an imagined French imperial community, they simultaneously engendered and reinforced many of divisions running through the heart of Algerian society. In appealing to colonial subjects, Bonapartism distinguished between a European constituency juxtaposed against a native community defined in terms of its Arab nationality and Islamic identification. These groupings would characterize the front lines of an ongoing struggle over Algerian sovereignty and, later, independence throughout the century. Maintaining both an ‘Arab Kingdom’ and a ‘French Algeria’ was only sustainable through an authoritative sovereign capable of representing and publicly engaging with a plurality of social groups and interests. Once this lynchpin was removed, the common imperial edifice would collapse. Iterations of Bonapartist sovereignty in Algeria shed light on the various inconsistencies and ambiguities that have often been attributed to a movement which at once appeared authoritarian, popular and democratic in substance. Imperial politics encouraged public displays of loyalty and spectacle, giving Bonapartism a distinct culture that drew upon and synthesized a number of different political traditions and discourses. It relied strongly upon a sacralized vision of sovereignty, emphasizing the bond uniting people and ruler. This discourse encouraged emotive displays of devotion that could assume numerous forms of expression and adapt to national and imperial frameworks as needed. If the impassioned and unanimous crowd took centre stage in national narratives, the colonial milieu brought forth a range of representations moulded to fit the contours of an inherently diverse society. In Algeria, the various registers of Bonapartist political culture were on full display, fusing elements of religion, nationality and dynastic loyalty to varying degrees. Through public celebrations and imperial pageantry, the Second Empire used the forms of a revolutionary political culture to articulate a brand of imperial and dynastic sovereignty that deviated from republican principles in crucial ways. The aggressive secularism and universalism ascendant during the Third Republic contrasted markedly with Napoleon III’s colonial policies and the pluralistic representations of sovereignty they encouraged. All the same, however, Bonapartist discourse and policies did shape France’s emerging colonial culture during the mid-nineteenth century, revealing the continuity of a specific colonial logic when it came to Algerian politics. The post-revolutionary period was, in many ways, a laboratory in which contending ideologies merged and took on hybridized forms. While 1870 is commonly thought of as a ‘break’ in modern French history, it is difficult to ignore that the founders of the Third Republic were responsive to the Bonapartist culture which loomed over the formative years of their political and journalistic careers.112 Republicans would similarly instrumentalize Islam, nurture a particular idea of Islam français among natives and persist in working through local intermediaries to consolidate France’s hold over its North African empire.113 These facets of Algerian policy owed much to the years of Bonapartist rule. Nevertheless, the sovereign bond between people and republic remained confined to an imagined body of European citizens. It did not extend to the various communities and ‘tribes’ populating France’s vast empire. The Bonapartist synthesis relied upon a personal form of rule that situated a plurality of cultural and social groups in relation to the sovereign. Republican democracy confined this ‘sacred’ bond to an atomized citizenry invested with universal rights.114 Republicans may have been disposed to borrow certain aspects of Bonapartist discourse, but they were not inclined to compromise their principles. Supplanting the diversified imperial sovereignty of Bonapartist personal rule was the republican logic of colonial citizenship and differentiation and with it the ideology that would underpin a republican vision of empire in the years ahead. Research for this article was funded through the State Academic University for the Humanities (Russia) with the support of project N 14.Z50.31.0045 from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. Footnotes 1 ‘Arrivée de S. M. l’empereur à Alger’, Moniteur de l’Algérie, 4 May 1865. 2 P. MacMahon, Mémoires: souvenirs d’Algérie (Paris, 1923), 305. 3 W. 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Mariot, ‘Qu’est-ce qu’un “enthusiasme civique”? sur l’historiographie des fêtes politiques en France après 1789’, Annales. Historie, Sciences Sociales, 1 (2003), 131, 137–8. 32 Hazareesingh, From Subject to Citizen, 40–89. 33 Quoted in F. Salmon, ‘La gauche avancée en 1849 et en 1870’, in Les Républicains sous le Second Empire, ed. L. Hamon (Paris, 1993), 98. 34 S. Hazareesingh, The Saint-Napoleon: Celebrations of Sovereignty in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge, 2004); J. R. Lehning, The Melodramatic Thread: Spectacle and Political Culture in Modern France (Bloomington, IN, 2007), 41–2. 35 On Bonapartism and patriotism: S. Hazareesingh, ‘Memory, legend and politics: Napoleonic patriotism in the Restoration era’, Eur. Jl Pol. Theory, 5 (2006), 71–84. 36 D. Grangues, La France sous la quatrième dynastie (Paris, 1858), 150. 37 Glikman, La Monarchie impériale, 71–81. 38 G. Cassagnac to M. Conti, 25 April 1870, Papiers et correspondance de la famille impériale, vol. 1 (Paris, 1871), 165. 39 Truesdell, Spectacular Politics, 10. 40 Voyage de LL. Mm. l’empereur et l’impératrice dans les departments du sud-est, de la Savoie, de la Corse et de l’Algérie (Paris, 1860), 17. 41 La Presse, 9 and 16 Sept. 1860. 42 R. Saint-Félix, Napoléon III en Algérie et la régence de S.M. l’impératrice (Paris, 1865), 203–4, vii. 43 Voyage de leurs majestés en Algérie (Paris, 1860), 27. 44 Voyage de S.M. Napoléon III en Algérie (Algiers, 1865), xi. 45 Voyage de LL. Mm. l’empereur, 96. 46 E. Goncourt and J. Goncourt, ‘Alger: notes au crayon’, in Pages retrouvées (Paris, 1886), 267–8; Voyage de leurs majestés en Algérie, 10. 47 L. Addi, ‘Colonial mythologies: Algeria in the French imagination’, in Franco-Arab Encounters, ed. L. C. Brown and M. S. Gordon (Lebanon, 1996), 102–3. 48 J. Duval, ‘L’anniversaire du 13 juin en Algérie’, Revue de l’Orient, 12 (1852), 94, 90. 49 ‘Excursion de l’empereur dans l’arrondissement d’Alger’, Moniteur de l’Algérie, 5 May 1865. 50 Voyage de leurs majestés en Algérie, 11. 51 A. Fonvielle, ‘L’empereur en Algérie’, Le Temps, 6 June 1865. 52 Bulletin Officiel de l’Algérie et des colonies, no. 2 (27 Oct. 1858), 51. 53 A[rchives] N[ationales] O[utre] M[er] GGA 17H/3, ‘Ministre secrétaire d’etat de l’Algérie et des colonies au procureur général’, Jan. 1860. 54 G. Voisin, L’Algérie pour les algériens (Paris, 1861); I. Urbain, L’Algérie française: indigènes et immigrants (Paris, 1862). 55 E. Girandin, ‘La question de l’Algérie’, La Presse, 14 Apr. 1865; F. Larcoix, L’Algérie et la lettre de l’empereur (Paris, 1863). 56 M. Levallois, Ismaÿl Urbain: royaume arabe ou Algérie franco-musulmane? (Paris, 2012), 515–60. 57 Y. Turin, Affrontements culturels dans l’Algérie colonial: écoles, médecines, religion, 1830–1880 (Algiers, 1983), 256, 280; E. G. Giedji, L’Enseignement indigène en Algérie au cours de la colonisation, 1832–1962 (Paris, 2000), 62; O. W. Abi-Mershed, Apostles of Modernity: The Saint-Simonians and the Civilizing Mission in Algeria (Stanford, CA, 2010), 147–50; J. Frémeaux, Les Bureaux arabes dans l’Algérie de la conquête (Paris, 1993), 22. 58 A. Vitu, Le Constitutionnel, 27 Sept.1860. 59 La Presse, 26 Sept. 1860. 60 La Presse, 30 Sept. 1860. 61 A. Vitu, ‘Voyage de l’empereur’, Le Constitutionnel, 28 Sept. 1860. 62 La Presse, 26 Sept. 1860. 63 Levallois, Ismaÿl Urbain, 557. 64 A[rchives] N[ationales] 234 AP 4, ‘Lettre de sa majesté l’empereur’, 6 Feb. 1863. 65 O. Saaidia, Algérie coloniale: Musulmans et Chrétiens: le contrôle de l’état, 1830–1914 (Paris, 2015), 32–68. 66 D. Guignard, ‘Conservatoire ou révolutionnaire? le sénatus-consulte de 1863 appliqué au régime foncier d’Algérie’, Revue d’histoire du XIXeSiècle, 41 (2010), 81–95. 67 ANOM GGA 1 JJ/85, ‘Correspondance, subdivision’ (Oran), 9 May 1865. 68 ANOM GGA 1 KK/346, ‘Télégrammes’ (Constantine), 18 and 25 May 1865. 69 ANOM GGA 1 II/112, ‘Correspondance, subdivision d’Orléansville’ (Algiers), no. 2053, 20 May 1865. 70 La Presse, 25 Sept. 1860. 71 ANOM GGA 1 KK/346, ‘Télégrammes’ (Constantine), 26 May 1865. 72 M. Levallois, ‘Essai de typologie des orientalists Saint-Simoniens’, in L’Orientalisme des Saint-Simoniens, ed. M. Levallois and S. Moussa (Paris, 2006), 99–102; A. Messaoudi, Les Arabisants en la France colonial, 1780–1930 (Paris, 2015), 119–20. 73 For distinctions between colonial and imperial society: Messaoudi, Les Arabisants, 328–9. 74 Voyage de leurs majestés en Algérie, 34. 75 A. Vitu, ‘Voyage de l’empereur’, Le Constitutionelle, 28 Sept. 1860. 76 F. Pharaon, Voyage en Algérie de sa majesté Napoléon III (Paris, 1865), 76. 77 Ibid., 54. 78 A. Fonvielle, ‘L’empereur en Algérie’, Le Temps, 6 June 1865. 79 ANOM GGA 1 II/112, ‘Correspondance, subdivision d’Orléansville’ (Algiers), no. 2054, 20 May 1865. 80 For the specific Quranic surah: La Presse, 11 May 1865. 81 A. Nouschi (ed.), Correspodance du Docteur A. Vital avec I. Urbain (Paris, 1959), 144. 82 Fourmestraux, Les Idées napoléniennes en Algérie, 55–6. 83 ANOM GGA 1 JJ/85. ‘Correspondance, subdivision’ (Oran), 15 May 1865; ANOM GGA 1 II/153, ‘Circulaire’ no. 1182, 7 May 1865. 84 Saint-Félix, Napoléon III en Algérie, 205, 106–7. 85 Hazareesingh, ‘Religion and politics in the Saint-Napoleon festivity’, 44–5. 86 ANOM GGA 2N/58, ‘Rapport à l’appui du détail estimatif de travaux’, 10 July 1854. 87 N. Oulebsir, Les Usages du patrimoine: monuments, musées et politique coloniale en Algérie, 1830–1930 (Paris, 2004), 86–106. 88 ANOM GGA 2N/58, ‘Colonel de chef d’état-majeur au gouverneur général’, 21 September 1865. 89 M. Emerit (ed.), La Révolution de 1848 en Algérie (Paris, 1949); G. Murray-Miller, ‘Imagining the trans-Mediterranean republic: Algeria, republicanism and the origins of the French imperial nation-state, 1848–1870’, Fr. Hist. Studs., 37 (2014), 303–30. 90 Akhbar, 26 Dec. 1851. 91 Akhbar, 20 Dec. 1851. 92 Akhbar, 14 Dec.1852. 93 A. Fonvielle, ‘Les optimistes’, L’Algérie Nouvelle, 17 Feb. 1860. 94 Moniteur de l’Algérie, 4 July 1867. 95 A. Lambert, ‘La petition au sénat’, L’Echo d’Oran, 12 Feb. 1863. 96 J. Guérin, ‘Aux Algeriens’, Akhbar, 2 May 1865. 97 A. Fonvielle, ‘L’empereur en Algérie’, Le Temps, 10 May 1858. 98 Le Métayer des Planches, L’Empereur en Algérie (Algiers, 1865), 11. 99 Voyage de S.M. Napoléon III en Algérie, 23. 100 Akhbar, 4 May 1865. 101 Levallois, Ismaÿl Urbain, 542. 102 O. Teissier, Napoléon III en Algérie (Paris, 1865), xiii. 103 Fonvielle, ‘L’empereur en Algérie’, Le Temps, 17 May 1865. 104 Fonvielle, ‘L’empereur en Algérie’, Le Temps, 6 June 1865. 105 Mariot, ‘Qu’est-ce qu’un “enthusiasme civique”‘, 131–6. 106 Fonvielle, ‘L’empereur en Algérie’, Le Temps, 6 June 1865. 107 A. Warnier, L’Algérie devant l’empereur (Paris, 1865). 108 J. Guérin, ‘Les élections’, Akhbar, 12 May 1865. 109 Levallois, Ismaÿl Urbain, 555. 110 , 382. 111 S. Deringil, ‘The invention of tradition as public image in the late Ottoman Empire, 1808 to 1908’, Comp. Studs. Soc. Hist., 35 (1993), 3–29; Unowsky, The Pomp and Politics of Patriotism. 112 P. M. Pilbeam, Republicanism in Nineteenth-Century France, 1814–1871 (New York, 1995), 275. 113 J. McDougall, ‘The secular state’s Islamic empire: Muslim spaces and subjects of jurisdiction in Paris and Algiers, 1905–1957’, Comp. Studs. Soc. Hist., 52 (2010), 553–80; Saaidia, Algérie coloniale; E. Burke III, The Ethnographic State: France and the Invention of Moroccan Islam (Berkeley, 2014). 114 J. Jennings, ‘Citizenship, republicanism and multiculturalism in contemporary France’, Brit. Jl Pol. Sci., 30 (2000), 575–97; D. Schapper, Community of Citizens: On the Modern Idea of Nationality (New Brunswick, 1998), 12–29; E. Saada, Empire’s Children: Race, Filiation and Citizenship in the French Colonies (Chicago, 2007); E. Thompson, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (New York, 2000); Cooper, Citizenship between Empire and Nation; Larcher, L’Autre Citoyen; Coller, Arab France, 14–16. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of French History. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png French History Oxford University Press

Bonapartism in Algeria: empire and sovereignty before the Third Republic

French History , Volume Advance Article (2) – Apr 4, 2018

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of French History. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com
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0269-1191
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Abstract

Abstract Between 1852 and 1870, Napoleon III and his Bonapartist entourage successfully established a Second Napoleonic Empire that encouraged a ‘cult of the emperor’, emphasizing the strong and even mystical bond between the sovereign and the people. While the ‘spectacular politics’ of the Bonapartist regime have been examined in detail, far less attention has been given to how Bonapartist patriotism was applied within a colonial context and, more specifically, in relation to Algeria. This article examines iterations of Bonapartist dynastic patriotism and nationalist politics in North Africa. It argues that an evaluation of French imperial sovereignty and practices in the years prior to the Third Republic can help to diversify our understanding of the French colonial experience and propose models that diverged from the narrative of republican colonialism in crucial ways during the post-revolutionary period. At 5:30am on the morning of 3 May 1865 the sound of cannon fire was heard echoing along the coastal ports of Algiers. The thunderous shots signalled the appearance of the imperial yacht coming into port, and an hour later Napoleon III stepped foot on Algerian soil for the first time in five years to cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur’.1 To commemorate the emperor’s visit to the colony, public celebrations abounded during each day, with regal displays of French military prowess staged by the army and Muslim subjects entertaining guests with horseback-riding demonstrations. In the evenings, the public buildings and mosques of the capital were illuminated with dazzling pale light. ‘It really was an enchanted spectacle’, the newly appointed governor-general Patrice de Mac-Mahon admitted when reflecting on the events.2 Napoleon III was the first head of state to visit the Algerian colony acquired by France in 1830. His two state visits during the 1860s signalled Algeria’s growing importance in both France’s expanding colonial empire and sense of national prestige. For colonists, the emperor’s visits were hailed as momentous events. His presence not only symbolized Algeria’s importance to the mother country; it also offered colonists an opportunity to make known their aspirations for assimilation and civil equality with their compatriots across the Mediterranean.3 Above all, however, the occasion offered colonists a chance to demonstrate their patriotism to the emperor in person, affirming that they were a single French people united in their love and devotion to a common sovereign. Describing the fanfare that accompanied the emperor’s arrival, the journalist Joseph Guérin vividly captured the mood of the occasion, reporting: ‘the crowd was only a single soul and it emerges in the cry repeated a thousand times over of Vive l’Empereur!’4 Yet the pomp and festivities staged to welcome the emperor concealed an underlying anxiety that had been brewing in the colony since his previous visit in 1860. During the interval, Napoleon III had announced his latest Algerian policy, dictating, to the consternation of many colonists and high-ranking military officials, that Algeria was to be considered an ‘Arab Kingdom’ rather than a French colony ‘strictly speaking’. The tone of his speeches while touring the colony reflected this new outlook, evincing a noticeable concern with Algeria’s vast Muslim majority and a commitment to regenerating an indigenous Arab nationality. ‘When France placed its foot on African soil thirty-five years ago,’ he declared before an audience of Muslim, Jewish and European subjects assembled in Algiers, ‘it did not come to destroy the nationality of a people but, on the contrary, to lift this people from an old oppression.’5 Such pronouncements were a far cry from the emperor’s bold statement in 1852 pledging that ‘across from Marseille we have a vast territory to assimilate to France’.6 These apparent incongruities say much about the Bonapartist movement in France. Originating with Napoleon I and persisting under subsequent regimes during the post-revolutionary period, Bonapartism, as a political movement and ideology, has often been characterized by a ‘permanent ambiguity’.7 The political eclecticism encouraged by leading Bonapartist ideologues and the absence of any definitive Bonapartist party in the country have made pinning down the core ideological tenets associated with Bonapartism exceedingly difficult.8 To some degree, the elusive nature of Bonapartism stems from its ‘remarkably plastic and synthetic qualities’, which permitted the Second Napoleonic Empire, created in 1852, to draw upon traditional monarchical and imperial discourses while equally promoting democratic and nationalist policies.9 Without doubt, the seeming contradictions of the Second Empire were many: it reached out to liberals and conservatives, urban workers and the rural peasantry alike; it promoted the industrial sciences and nationalism while simultaneously cultivating relations with Catholic leaders and religious notables; it presented itself as a populist government while maintaining a regal court culture.10 Given these contradictions, Juliette Glikman’s assertion that the ‘Napoleonic idea’ was more a ‘fluid system of representations’ than a rigid political doctrine appears apposite.11 At base, however, Bonapartism rested upon a specific idea of the sovereign that sacralized the relationship between emperor and subject. Its ability to identify with different social and ideological groups was one of its hallmark features, presenting a political model that deviated from strict Rousseauist ideas of republican unity promoted during the French Revolution in significant ways. Although conventional narratives present the modern ‘nation form’ sweeping away older arrangements vested in confessional, local or dynastic identification, in reality imperial and dynastic models continued to predominate over communitarian ideas of nationhood or isonomic republican principles in the post-revolutionary period.12 The First Napoleonic Empire showed itself willing to promote a brand of ‘cosmopolitanism’ in Egypt and Europe consistent with multi-ethnic empires such as those governed by the Habsburgs and Ottomans. Different ethnic and confessional groups were, to varying degrees, tolerated and administered through distinct state institutions, contrary to republican notions of civic uniformity.13 Throughout the nineteenth century imperial and monarchical forms persisted in tandem with nationalizing tendencies, and French Bonapartism was no difference in this respect. It oriented itself towards a polity and style of rule which Daniel Unowsky has identified as state or ‘dynastic patriotism’.14 At its centre stood the sovereign, reimagined as a veritable icon embodying all the attachment to people and country that the term ‘patriotism’ evoked. The festivities, political speeches and cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur’ that accompanied the imperial visits to Algeria during the 1860s revealed this ‘dynastic patriotism’ in action. That said, scholars have rarely considered the implication of Algeria when considering Bonapartism. Post-revolutionary French imperialism has only recently begun to receive more thorough attention from historians.15 David Todd’s acknowledgement of a ‘French imperial meridian’ has proposed a framework in which to consider how regimes prior to the Third Republic imagined the modern colonial empire and contributed to the making of a national colonial culture.16 Examining Bonapartism in its Algerian iterations furnishes a context in which to evaluate key themes of imperial sovereignty and dynastic patriotism that played a central role in this process. At its core, Bonapartism provided an adaptable model that mixed ideas of revolutionary nationalism and dynastic loyalty in equal measure and was thus able to rule over a multi-ethnic empire. Its ability to draw upon pre-established political rituals and blend them with orientalist and colonial themes is suggestive of the ideological elasticity that characterized the movement. During the 1860s, Algerian officials and colonists showed a willingness to adopt the Bonapartist script. Publicists and colonial interest groups relied heavily upon prevailing discourses of Bonapartist democracy in framing requests for representative institutions throughout the decade. Local officials organized and shared in the celebrations of national-imperial sovereignty staged during the state visits, repeatedly emphasizing Algeria’s special relationship with France through Napoleonic symbols and mass expressions of dynastic loyalty. In making appeals to Algeria’s native population, ceremonies readily evoked memories of the Napoleonic Egyptian expedition. Aspirations of ‘regenerating’ a decadent Orient and attempts to paint Napoleon III as an ‘Arab’ emperor consciously harkened back to Napoleon I’s earlier efforts at ‘playing Muslim’, inscribing the process of Algerian colonization within the context of a veritable Bonapartist tradition.17 These manifestations of Bonapartist political culture not only provided a conceptual space for the representation of Algeria within public life; they also hinted at an alternative vision of colonial empire distinct from republican ideas vested in citizenship and assimilation. French colonial studies have often highlighted struggles over political rights and the inability to square a secular, universalist ideology with the realities of imperial diversity. In this regard, historians have drawn attention to the inequalities and exclusionary practices that routinely pitted a white European settler community invested with rights against a disenfranchised colonized population. While these inequalities should not be ignored or trivialized, they are part of a larger narrative that has sought to explain, whether explicitly or implicitly, the shortcomings of the republican civilizing mission and the many contradictions it engendered.18 This conclusion was, however, never predetermined. Prior to the founding of the Third Republic, republican discourses vied with competing ideologies and nation-building programmes. Debates over rights and citizenship existed alongside rival iterations of sovereignty, entailing that republican colonialism was only one among various imperial imaginaries in the nineteenth century.19 Bonapartism proposed a system capable of governing a multi-ethnic state and held out the possibility of an imperial polity that blended democratic practices with dynastic authority. Only after 1870 did republican isonomy and assimilation became the predominant elements of a colonial state and culture that have since assumed primacy in our understanding of the French imperial experience. Taking the idea of a ‘French imperial meridian’ seriously entails looking beyond the discourses of French republicanism and accounting for the divergent articulations of imperial sovereignty that shaped the evolution and practices of empire in France. An assessment of Bonapartist political culture in Algeria permits us to reconstruct an alternative vision of empire that paralleled nineteenth-century republican colonialism, contextualizing the demands for rights and inclusion that routinely burdened the république coloniale over the course of its existence. With the establishment of universal manhood suffrage in 1848, French politics assumed an imminently popular and democratic character in spirit if not in practice. The Bonapartists of the mid-nineteenth century understood this new political culture perfectly. They adeptly employed symbols and mass spectacles to create and sustain a Second Napoleonic Empire that was progressive yet authoritarian in character.20 Through a series of national referendums, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte legitimated his illegal coup d’état in 1851 and founded the imperial government a year later with popular support. He was hardly being flippant when he appeared before the assembly in the spring of 1852 and remarked ‘the head of state you have before you is the expression of the popular will’.21 In the terms of Bonapartist democracy, the people had empowered the government through a single vote, ‘clear, simple, and understood by all’, rendering the new Napoleon a manifestation of the general will.22 As one propagandist put it bluntly, ‘Bonapartism is now what it has always professed to be, the legitimate representative of national sovereignty.’23 Studies on Bonapartism and the Second Empire have frequently stressed the national tenor of imperial politics, especially in relation to the specific conception of national sovereignty that underwrote the idea and practice of Bonapartist democracy. The Bonapartist revival was a product of the nationalist resurgence that grew up during the 1840s and consciously presented itself as a popular movement with deep roots in the French national soil.24 ‘Before [the empire] rallied all the forces of the nation, it was born in the cottages of the people’, proclaimed the inveterate Bonapartist, the duc de Persigny.25 This rhetoric extended beyond simple veneration for the French nation and people. From its origins in the late eighteenth century, Bonapartism had persistently emphasized the strong and even ‘sacred’ link that united sovereign and people. This pact was a consistent centrepiece of Bonapartist political discourse throughout much of the century.26 It rested upon the belief that the emperor, empowered through national referendums, faithfully represented the sentiments and will of the nation. It was this peculiar mix of Rousseauist volunteerism and executive autonomy that gave Bonapartism its distinct character and ideological import.27 Efforts to objectify this sacred bond drew upon pre-established political rituals and discourses inherited from the past, most importantly the festivals of the French Revolution. Revolutionaries of the late eighteenth century employed the fête révolutionnaire to convey the ‘transfer of the sacred’ to the secular domain of the national community that lay at the heart of the revolutionary programme. Celebrations incarnated abstractions such as ‘the people’ and ‘the nation’, affirming their indivisible unity through the shared enthusiasm and spontaneous participation of individuals.28 Such ‘festivals of sovereignty’ have been closely associated with the French republican tradition and, according to Alain Corbin, remain distinct from the ‘Caesarist’ festivities of the Bonapartists that tended to celebrate the sovereign power of the individual ruler over the community.29 This dichotomy is not, however, wholly accurate. Bonapartists at mid-century combined various political traditions and discourses, commonly presenting ideas of sovereignty that were pluralistic and moulded to accommodate local contexts.30 More broadly, ‘civic enthusiasm’ is hardly an accurate gauge for measuring ideological adhesion or political fervour, as Nicolas Marinot has argued. In reality, political festivals reflect the ‘decorative formalism’ of rituals and collective actions that condition normative gestures and behaviours written into the fabric of a political culture. If Bonapartism prized a ceremonial politics that drew upon revolutionary concepts of sovereignty, it concerned itself with external manifestations of devotion that were often curated in advance.31 These ‘depersonalized’ expressions of loyalty were consistent with Bonapartist conceptions of citizenship that favoured centralized authority and ministerial prerogative over active political engagement well into the 1860s. This situation only began to change after 1866 as the government pursued a more liberal orientation.32 Festivities consciously focused attention on the emperor and dynasty. During the 1850s and 1860s, Napoleon III appeared regularly at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and national exhibitions throughout the country. Even when absent, the sovereign was evoked in speeches or represented on ceremonial medals distributed at events. Statesmen used recourse to old Napoleonic memories to impart an imminently national character to the Second Empire and instructed officials to appeal to ‘the Napoleonic sentiment of the people’ at every opportunity.33 Public festivities regularly featured imperial eagles and large letter Ns adorning buildings while Napoleon I’s birthday was made an official fête nationale in the hope of replacing the collective memory of the revolution with that of the First Empire and Bonaparte family.34 Focusing attention on the Napoleonic cult, Bonapartist ideologues endeavoured to present the family as a national dynasty, one capable of attracting support from monarchists who had never accepted the nation’s republican heritage. They were careful to avoid the conservative and aristocratic royalism of the former Bourbon line, distinguishing the Bonapartes as a popular dynasty endowed with the necessary esprit national and patriotism capable of uniting the nation.35 ‘The Napoleonic dynasty, deriving from the ranks of the nation, cannot forget that it belongs to everyone’, as one writer stated.36 These iterations of national sovereignty and dynastic heritage were hardly a clumsy attempt to dress royal pretensions in a national garb. By its very nature, Bonapartist politics relied upon a distinct style of public spectacle and nationalism centred on the figure of the sovereign and his link to the people.37 It was an affective politic based as much on emotional attachment to the leader as on synthetic ideological content. As late as 1870, the journalist and politician Adolphe Granier de Cassagnac testified to the resilience of the Bonaparte cult, insisting that the majority of French peasants cared little for day-to-day politics or debates in the Corps législatif: ‘The rural populations know only the Emperor, want only him and will vote only for him.’38 Napoleon III’s persona was important to the vitality of the new government. Public appearances by the emperor were routinely detailed in newspaper accounts and imperial travel literature, both of which served as important channels of government propaganda. At the inauguration of the Boulevard de Sébastopol in Paris in 1858, the pro-imperial newspaper Le Constitutionnel drew attention to the enthusiasm of the crowd, insisting, ‘Nation and Emperor think and act with the same confidence and the same sympathy.’39 In an account of the emperor’s tour of the empire in the autumn of 1860, authors did not fail to emphasize the ‘immense crowd’ that turned out to greet the imperial family at Lyon or the ‘impatient cries’ of those waiting to catch a glimpse of their leader.40 Moving on to Avignon, the family received an ‘enthusiastic welcome’ from thousands of spectators, while days later the imperial palace in Corsica was thronged by a ‘passionate crowd’ expressing their devotion to the sovereign.41 Lively descriptions—and inflated statistics—of excited crowds clamouring to welcome the emperor were a common trope in newspaper accounts. Vivid illustrations frequently accompanied the descriptions that appeared in book form during the 1850s and 1860s. Whether in word or image, such media was intended to provide readers with a virtual experience, allowing them to participate vicariously in the ecstasy of the crowd and partake in the scared link uniting sovereign and people. More than simply propaganda, newspaper accounts and imperial travel literature were part and parcel of the Bonapartist political culture and ritualized politics elaborated during the mid-nineteenth century. In some instances, authors barely disguised their motivations. In his account of the emperor’s trip to Algeria in 1865, René de Saint-Félix spelt out in no uncertain terms the importance he attributed to the official visit. His tome was intended to show that ‘the love of the populations, already so profoundly attached to the Napoleonic dynasty, has been reinforced in seeing this strong monarch’. While modesty compelled Saint-Félix to assure his readers that his account contained only ‘sincere and disinterested considerations’, the didactic intent of the work was not hard to mistake. In the author’s own words, the book aimed to: teach many of our citizens, not only to love the Emperor—the voice of the people has already proven the unanimity of their sentiments—but to better understand and comprehend the providential man who, retaking the hereditary sceptre, has committed himself to leading France along the path of justice, glory and prosperity.42 Saint-Félix’s Napoléon III en Algérie was one of the more blatantly Bonapartist pieces of imperial travel literature to appear in the 1860s, but others similarly linked themes of public visibility, dynastic patriotism and imperial sovereignty in more nuanced ways. Saint-Félix’s account was not, however, complete fabrication. Bonapartist pageantry was in full display during the two official trips to Algeria. Upon disembarking from the imperial yacht in 1860, the mayor of Algiers greeted the imperial family and presented Napoleon III with the key to the city. Before a crowd amassed on the waterfront, he insisted, ‘It is from the depth of our heart that, all together, soldiers and citizens, we cry: Vive l’Empereur!’ Much as Joseph Guérin would indicate five years later, it was through a mutual devotion to the emperor that the unity of the Algerian people was made manifest. This ardour carried over into the official ceremonies staged during the imperial family’s visit. As the imperial couple laid the cornerstone of the newly planned Boulevard de l’Impératrice in the city, the ‘enraptured’ crowd once again assumed centre stage. ‘It is easy to see that a violent emotion agitates [the crowd] and that it makes every effort to contain it’, one account reported.43 Testaments of impassioned onlookers with tears of joy streaming down their cheeks and uttering zealous cries of affection conformed to the Bonapartist script of national sovereignty and dynastic patriotism. ‘It was like an electrical commotion’, claimed one writer when describing the emperor’s appearance in Boufarik. ‘Every soul vibrated in unison and joy overflowed in every heart—a bursting, communicative joy bordering on delirium.’44 Yet if these visits to the colony bore the familiar marks of Bonapartist political ritual with such outward displays of devotion and enthusiasm, there was a noticeable difference with regard to the Algerian crowds. Whereas ‘the crowd’ was often depicted as a homogenous body in France, observers were quick to note the diversity found among the crowds that turned out in Algeria. The mix of French, European and native spectators all scrambling to catch a glimpse of the sovereign possessed ‘a character as moving as it is pittoresque’, according to one commentator.45 As a colonial society, Algeria comprised a mosaic of French, Spanish, Maltese, Geek and Italian settlers, not to mention the Turkic peoples remaining from years of Ottoman rule and the sizeable Arab and Berber populations indigenous to the region. Visitors and officials commonly remarked on the variegated nature of the colonial population, finding ‘a strange, quaint and dazzling multiplicity’, a ‘veritable Babel’ of dress and languages or ‘a human kaleidoscope’.46 Allusions to North African diversity were not, however, merely descriptive. Rather, they reiterated popular perceptions of oriental heterogeneity, implying that Algerian inhabitants lacked a national consciousness capable of constituting a proper nation.47 In ‘civilizing’ Algeria, France was committed to a project of oriental ‘regeneration’, a mission interpreted in terms of bequeathing a national identity and unity to a hopelessly divided society. ‘All the people of diverse origins, mores, customs, languages, races and religions [will] form only a single people: the Algerian people’, extolled the colonial publicist Jules Duval in 1852. Such would be ‘the capital work of France in the nineteenth century’.48 Bonapartist discourse added a specific twist to aspirations for Algerian unity. Beside the fusion promised by a common French language and nationality rested the relationship between subject and sovereign central to Bonapartist ideology. The two were not mutually exclusive and could support one another. In 1865, the mayor of Chéragas outside Algiers stated as much, noting in his address to the emperor that while Algeria was diverse it nevertheless possessed a unity in and through the sovereign: ‘You find here a population which although of different races and origins comes together under a single flag, that of France, and knows only a Sovereign that it acclaims at this moment.’49 Other demonstrations of unity could, however, prioritize the sovereign over assumptions of national or cultural unity. In 1860, when colonial subjects erected mock Arc de Triomphes in anticipation of Napoleon III’s visit, each ethnic group presented their own version of this Napoleonic monument, outfitting it with stylistic flourishes evincing unique Spanish, Jewish or Arabic influences.50 In 1865, Spanish colonists in Oran used the occasion to dress up in Spanish national costumes and interspersed acclaim for Napoleon III with violent denunciations of the Spanish Queen Isabella.51 The fact that the emperor met separately with Arab, Kabyle and Jewish delegations during the course of his visit only highlighted the complexities that Bonapartist discourse invited. In a multi-ethnic society such as Algeria, the question of what, in fact, constituted this envisaged national unity was never clear cut. Under the circumstances, devotion to the sovereign and devotion to a French patrie might not be one and the same. Although Bonapartism did rely on specific ritual forms and scripts, the state visits to Algeria occurred within a specific context that conditioned expressions of sovereignty in the colony. Over the course of the 1850s and 1860s, the ‘Algerian question’ divided metropolitan and colonial officials into opposing colon and arabophile camps that roughly corresponded to conflicts over civilian and military rule in the colony. The creation of the Ministry of Algeria and the Colonies in 1858 under Prince Jérôme Napoleon initially appeared to settle the issue in favour of the settlers. The ministry unequivocally endorsed expanding colonial settlement, native assimilation and the reduction of military influence over policymaking.52 French laws and civil government would ‘eliminate the barriers separating Arab society from our own’, as one official proclaimed.53 The Arab Offices in the military disagreed, insisting assimilation and unbridled colonization would only serve to generate ethnic tensions and subject Algerian natives to the whims of a European minority. Ismael Urbain, chief spokesman for the arabophile camp, argued that equitable treatment and native social integration offered a more conciliatory approach that would ‘fuse’ the diverse populations of the colony into a single community. ‘Algeria for the Algerians’ became a slogan of the group, which claimed to protect Arab nationality and Muslim society from an oppressive European colonialism.54 These appeals to protecting an endangered Arab nationality struck a sympathetic chord with certain sectors of French public opinion, and in particular resonated with Napoleon III and his promotion of nationalité at home and abroad.55 Tensions ran high in the colony, and Napoleon III’s ambiguous position on Algeria elicited a great deal of anxiety on both sides. The conflict between colons and arabophiles has been well documented. Needless to say, this ideological sparring furnished the backdrop against which the state visits in 1860 and 1865 took place. According to Michel Levallois, the two factions each played an instrumental role in the imperial visits as they attempted to shape official opinion.56 Each camp certainly endeavoured to impress their views upon the emperor, but the means through which they did so were important and reflected the multiple ways the Bonapartist script could be moulded to fit particular contexts and meanings. Arabophiles and military officials connected with the Arab Offices consciously invoked Bonapartist models of sovereignty in their arguments. Their defence of Arab nationality not only accorded with the Second Empire’s veneration of nationalité; it was also consistent with prevailing ideas of Napoleonic leadership. Bonapartist ideology was dependent upon incarnating the special relationship linking sovereign and people, and this premise offered a model capable of organizing a diverse imperial community spanning the Mediterranean. A nominally ‘Arab’ constituency constituted one community among a constellation of others, all associated through the imperial sovereign. While ‘Arab’ nationality was a creation of the Arab Offices and encompassed a heterogeneous North African population consisting of Turks and Berbers who neither spoke Arabic nor identified with an Arab ethnicity, it offered the possibility of recognizing Algerian natives as a distinct national group existing alongside the European settler population.57 Convincing the emperor of this Arab nationality constituted one of the principal strategies of the arabophile faction. During the 1860 visit, the military put on daily performances for the imperial entourage that exhibited the ‘native’ character of Algerian society. At the centre of these festivities was the fantasia, a traditional Arab performance enacted by the various chasseurs d’Afrique, sipahis and native colonial recruits (goums) under military supervision. The spectacle featured demonstrations of Arab horsemanship and gunmen firing off blanks and entertaining spectators with acrobatic tricks. In total, some five thousand natives participated in the event, including Arab marksmen, cavalry and regular troops. Despite the entertainment value of the fantasia, the event was carefully choreographed to showcase the martial skill and discipline of the colonial regiments. Cavalry assembled in battle formations, engaged in simulated attacks, followed the orders of division commanders and let out cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur!’ on cue. The visiting journalist Auguste Vitu was astonished to discover that ‘this sort of game has its rules fixed in advance’ and was not executed pêle-mêle.58 In particular, the participation of the Kabyle people was most revealing. Having fiercely resisted French forces in the Atlas Mountains during the 1850s, the Kabyle were a ‘freshly conquered’ people.59 By partaking in the festivities and demonstrating their loyalty to the emperor, it was evident they had been won over to French civilization and desired to ‘efface the memories of times past’.60 The message was clear: the Kabyle were now obedient imperial subjects under the aegis of the Arab Offices.61 According to Fabrice Labrousse, correspondent for the metropolitan daily La Presse, the military had visibly imposed organization and structure on ‘masses accustomed to irregular procedures’.62 The once ‘fanatical’ Muslim had been transformed into a dutiful soldier, holding out the prospect for such people’s progressive integration within the ranks of the military and colonial society more generally.63 Such spectacles spoke to the martial culture and pageantry of the Napoleonic tradition, but they also fed into a more basic assumption encouraged by arabophile spokesmen: as a recognized sovereign of North African peoples, Napoleon III was in essence an ‘Arab’ emperor. This central message was reiterated in the coming years as Napoleon III dismantled the civilian colonial administration set-up in 1858 and proclaimed Algeria an ‘Arab Kingdom’. After 1863, arabophiles began pushing through policies aimed at integrating natives, bolstering cooperation with Muslim religious notables and ‘regenerating’ a decadent Arab nationality, all with the endorsement of the emperor. ‘The natives, like the colonists, have an equal right to my protection’, declared Napoleon III. ‘I am the Emperor of the Arabs just as I am the Emperor of the French.’64 This reinvention of the sovereign disregarded the continuity evident in Algerian colonial policy throughout much of the century. From 1851 onwards, the colonial regime exercised increasing administrative control over Algerian Islam through the creation of a culte musulman which gave the government powers to appoint top religious officials, direct Islamic education and maintain mosques and religious institutions. This ‘Jacobin centralization’ was unknown to the Muslim world and marked a colonial innovation rather than the conservation of ‘tradition’.65 In a similar fashion, the 1863 sénatus-consulte altered traditional Arab landholding practices, authorizing the break-up of tribal territories and introducing individual proprietary requirements that facilitated land transactions with European speculators.66 Claims to ‘protect’ or conserve a traditional Arab nationality perennially ran up against the systemic colonial logic of the Algerian state. All the same, the vision of Napoleon III as an Arab ‘protector’ did resonate within ceremonial politics and projections of sovereignty as Napoleon III met with tribal leaders and sheikhs, accepted gifts and bestowed Napoleonic medals and awards on Algerian natives. The Arab Offices played a direct role in staging these events, especially during the prolonged 1865 visit. Commanders in the Arab Offices coordinated efforts with the subdivisions, instructing them on the formalities of public receptions and arrangements regarding native escorts selected to accompany the emperor on his travels. In some instances, these instructions even extended to what clothing natives were to wear during public celebrations. As General Deligny, the bureau commander in Oran, insisted, there was to be a ‘unity of action’ across the various receptions and festivities.67 ‘Designated natives’—prominent Arab notables, native commanders and Muslim religious officials—were ordered to be present in places scheduled on the emperor’s itinerary.68 The Arab Offices even supervised the presentations of awards at ceremonies, selecting which natives were to be awarded what prizes by the emperor and in what fashion.69 In 1860, Fabrice Labrousse had congratulated the military regime for presenting the emperor with a faithful representation of Arab society, stating that ‘this mise en œuvre [was] one of the most ingenious aspects of the festivities’.70 Five years later, the administration aimed to capitalize on this impression. For the emperor’s scheduled trip through Bône in late May, the Arab Office in Constantine even ordered officials to make sure that a delegation of Bedouins was on hand with a sufficient gift (diffa) for the sovereign. More importantly, they were to look nomadic. Falcons, feathered hats, wiry greyhound dogs: ‘everything that will give the Emperor a scene of desert life’, the directive claimed.71 While perceptions of ‘authentic’ Arab culture remained highly stylized and consistent with the nineteenth-century culture of orientalism, these performances and rituals were more than expressions of colonial exoticism. They reflected the ‘scientific orientalism’ of both the Académie and colonial officialdom that prided itself on its intimate knowledge of and familiarity with Arab society. It aimed to combat the negative stereotypes of ‘colonial orientalism’ rife with notions of Eastern ‘barbarism’ and inferiority and replace it with an idea of Arab nationality capable of regeneration through France’s ‘civilizing’ work.72 This orientalism was pressed into service and used by officials to craft an image of Napoleon III as a nominally Arab ruler. Such an image testified to an imperial rather than strictly ‘colonial’ culture in which the public figure of the sovereign was capable of representing and embodying multiple forms of attachment befitting a multi-ethnic empire.73 Moreover, as journalists and commentators noted, the image of ‘le sultan Napoléon’ was a convincing one that assumed substance through the public presence and visibility of the sovereign.74 ‘Before the arrival of the Emperor the Arabs showed themselves very avid to see His Imperial Majesty, but they continued to call him le sultan kebir des Roumis [Sultan of the Romans]’, one newspaper stated in 1860. ‘Today, they all call him “our Emperor”.’75 This sentiment was repeated in 1865 when Napoleon III attended a fantasia on route to Batna in which Arab cavalrymen enacted public professions of loyalty to their sovereign. As the writer Florian Pharaon remarked, ‘For the first time, the great Arab families [of the region] acclaimed a Christian sovereign with enthusiasm.’76 Seemingly spontaneous acts of devotion by natives were also encouraged outside the more formal settings of public meetings and performances. On the way from Mostaganem to Rélizane in 1865, the imperial carriage was abruptly halted by a crowd of natives who prostrated themselves outside the city gates to request an act of clemency from their khalifa.77 In a similar fashion, near the village of Tlélat in Sidi-bel-Abbès a throng of Arabs approached the emperor and presented him with a petition requesting they be transferred from civilian to military jurisdiction. These natives, as one journalist observed, were not even from the region and were clearly a ploy by the military to convince the emperor that Algerians desired military rule.78 This accusation is hardly unjust, as the Arab Offices only allowed natives to present petitions to the emperor if they had been approved in advance by authorities and expressed the proper sentiments.79 Whether formalized or impromptu, these practices, ranging from dramatic expressions of loyalty to acts of petition, all accorded with the ritualistic forms of Bonapartist sovereignty and reinforced the ‘sacred’ link between ruler and people. The fête arabe staged during both imperial visits also incorporated religious spectacle, presenting Napoleon III not only as an Arab ruler but a guardian and benefactor of dar al-Islam. Speeches given to primarily Muslim audiences were peppered with Quranic verse and assurances that Muslims would be permitted to practise their religion under French aegis.80 ‘[These speeches] have provoked and led some to believe that the Emperor might well not be a Christian as previously supposed’, one colonist amusingly noted in 1865. ‘He is familiar with the Qur’an and not afraid to cite it.’81 In these addresses, Napoleon III affirmed his commitment to protecting Islam and made explicit allusion to Muhammad as a source of authority, underscoring his legitimacy as a Muslim ruler. ‘Your Prophet said: God gives the power to he who he wants. But in taking this power from him I seek to exercise it in your interest and for your wellbeing’, he stated. ‘You have understood that being your Sovereign, I am your protector.’82 These declarations were printed up, affixed to the walls of mosques and given ‘the greatest publicity’ among the native populations by the military.83 In tandem with these addresses, colonial officials employed religious pageantry and discourse to full effect in an effort to reify the image of le sultan Napoléon. In a highly choreographed performance, Napoleon III met with the head mufti at the Jamaa al-Jadid mosque in 1865, reiterating his assurance of France’s good faith vis-à-vis its Muslim subjects. Prayers were recited by religious officials as ‘the priests of Muhammad’ bestowed their blessing on the emperor. For a Bonapartist proponent like Saint-Félix, the congruities with Napoleon I’s abortive Egyptian campaign of 1798 only highlighted the sense of dynastic continuity that the regime coveted: ‘Dignified successor of his uncle, Napoleon III knew to speak to all his subjects according to their religion, habits and language.’84 Bonapartist ceremonial politics were never averse to mixing civic and religious festivities and had a history of working with Catholic officials at the local level in France.85 Indeed, this synergy was representative of the rich and pluralistic symbolism used by the regime to encourage support and engage with local communities. Islam was no different in this respect, and the administrative structures of the cult musulman permitted the state to instrumentalize Muslim piety in demonstrating its commitment to ‘Arab’ regeneration. The years of the Second Empire witnessed a significant increase in mosque restoration and construction. The Great Mosque of Algiers (Jamaa al-Kebir) took pride of place within these projects. As the Service des Bâtiments Civils noted, the building was not only ‘the most beautiful monument’ in Algiers but also ‘the most complete embodiment of Arab architecture’ in the colonial capital.86 This trend reversed former policies that had sanctioned the appropriation of Islamic cultural institutions and converted mosques into cathedrals. It also furnished the context in which a distinctly Arabo-Muslim Algerian patrimony could be imagined and developed.87 In September 1865, the military symbolically conveyed the turn towards the Arab Kingdom by formally relinquishing control over the El Maal mosque in Mostaganem, ‘returning’ it to the Muslim community.88 Under the Second Empire, Islam, like Catholicism, constituted one of the many registers of Bonapartist ceremonial politics, as concepts of sovereignty were reimagined and represented for multiple audiences across the French domain. European colonists were naturally averse to talk of Arab nationality and native integration, interpreting such policies as an affront to their aspirations for a French Algeria. Moreover, many settlers retained strong republican sympathies that did not necessarily mesh with Bonapartist notions of authority.89 Colonists had only marginally supported the coup d’état and the establishment of the Bonapartist regime in 1851. The majority of support had come from the countryside, which ‘advantageously counterbalanced the negative votes of the cities’, as Auguste Bourget, editor of the Algerian daily Akhbar, remarked.90 Notoriously famous for his ideological flexibility and ability to sense which way the political winds blew in France, Bourget became one of the foremost publicists of the Napoleonic regime in the colony in the early 1850s, adroitly crafting his position to the new political culture and taking up the Bonapartist script. He urged Algerian electors to ratify the new regime and rally to the ‘unanimous voice of the patrie’ in supporting Louis Napoleon Bonaparte.91 Following the Bonapartist victory of 1852 his paper carried detailed reports of the public celebrations organized in Algiers, describing scenes in which enthusiastic colonists displayed portraits of Napoleon in illuminated windows.92 Settlers consistently placed their hopes in the creation of an Algerian civilian administration, and the short-lived colonial ministry under Prince Napoleon, created in 1858, was initially hailed as a victory. The subsequent scaling back of these reforms in the 1860s brought anger and resentment. Civilian institutions synonymous with colon power were ‘merely a spectator’ in Algeria with no real authority, the journalist Arthur de Fonvielle complained.93 Possessing no political rights at the national level, and hence no actual power to influence policies applicable to the colony, colonists could only depend upon the good graces of the sovereign to enact legislation favourable to their interests. This situation only began to change in the late 1860s as the Second Empire liberalized. The pro-native position of the government entailed, however, that Muslims as well as Europeans were given rights to participate in municipal elections, drawing protest from European colons sensitive to demographic realities in the colony.94 Although the lack of political rights was a perennial grievance, settlers sought to circumvent this impediment by petitions. Colonial petitions sought to make known the interests and desires of colonists through extra-parliamentary means, and the practice gained greater currency as the emperor’s Arab Kingdom policy drove a wedge between the government and the settler population during the 1860s.95 If petitioning offered a means of giving voice to the silent colonial minority, the imperial visits provided an opportunity to articulate these concerns directly to the sovereign. More specifically, colonists had the chance to demonstrate their achievements and utility to the French imperial enterprise, an opportunity that had been missed in 1860. ‘It is essential that the Emperor, upon setting foot upon Algerian soil, not only witness the Arab sights organized for his visit’, Joseph Guérin urged his fellow colons in 1865.96 Reversing the Arab Kingdom required proving to the emperor that the settler community was engaged in the ‘civilizing’ work of modern colonialism. ‘These brave Algerian colons expect everything from this trip’, Arthur de Fonvielle observed.97 A book written in anticipation of the sovereign’s arrival readily agreed: ‘People are hoping without doubt that the presence of the Emperor will assure to Algeria a general period of improvement and a remedy to the particular suffering experienced across various urban localities.’98 Official descriptions of the visit in 1865 framed the event in just these terms, explaining that the emperor’s tour amounted to a personal inquest into the needs and potential of the colony. ‘I come among you to know your interests for myself’, Napoleon III stated when speaking to algérois colonists upon his arrival.99 Conscious of his audience, he also made references to Christianity and the ‘conquering race’, asserting to loud cheers, ‘We must be masters because we are the most civilized.’100 The ‘colonial’ tone of the address revealed the malleable nature of the imperial persona and contrasted sharply with the tone taken in his address to the Arabs given just two days later.101 Over the coming weeks, Napoleon III met with various local officials, attended Mass and toured colonial settlements.102 Mayors and functionaries performed the standard ceremonial rituals of leading calls of ‘Vive l’Empereur’, handing over keys to the city, accompanying the sovereign on inspection tours and giving scripted professions of loyalty. The perfunctory nature of these ceremonies resulted in a great deal of repetition and frequently exposed the overtly exterior manifestations of unity that Bonapartist celebrations commanded. ‘The mayors and official personnel really have to rack their brains’, Fonvielle scoffed. ‘They are obliged to follow the same script [tourner dans le même cercle] and the same ideas are invariably reproduced by them despite their best efforts.’103 Public officials were, he believed, ‘obligated by their position to compliment the Emperor’ and give declarations ‘in which the ideas are practically identical and the form, thanks to traditions of official phraseology, does not allow for much originality’.104 In his critique of colonial officialdom, Fonvielle clearly observed the ‘decorative formalism’ upon which representations of Bonapartist sovereignty relied. Its ceremonial politics drew upon a well-defined repertoire of ritualized gestures and rites that were, ultimately, institutionalized, and hence ‘depersonalized’.105 Acclamation of the sovereign followed an ideological script, and herein lay the problem according to Fonvielle. The mayors, the presidents of agricultural associations and the lower-ranking civil administrators were ‘utterly overpowered [écrasés]’ by the top colonial functionaries who commanded adherence to the Bonapartist script in public. Colons were forbidden from articulating their very real anxieties over the status of French Algeria and the fate of the settler community. The fête impériale was nothing but empty formalism. ‘Hardly are the last dust trails kicked up by the imperial carriage [after a visit] or the last lamps [illuminated during the festivities] extinguished before the anxiety reappears’, Fonvielle charged.106 Certain parties outside official circles did attempt to make their opinions known to the sovereign. A flurry of pamphlets and newspaper articles aimed to present colon wishes in a clear and consistent way, reiterating desires for a European civil administration and the political rights that belonged to all French citizens.107 Yet even if colon opinion operated largely outside the constraints of colonial officialdom, much of it remained shaped by the Bonapartist script. A journalist dedicated to the cause of colonial enfranchisement, Joseph Guérin consciously iterated his demands in the dominant idiom of Bonapartist political culture, employing patriotism and national unity to make a case for colonial civil and political rights. As he argued, colonists should be free to engage in municipal politics, which were neither based on factional ties nor party politics that might divide society: ‘Here we are all united because a single sentiment [animates us] … the desire to make a strong Algeria within France and to recognize in this manner what France will do for us.’ In Guérin’s appraisal, elected municipal bodies and local liberties were essential to the Bonapartist idea of sovereignty. Through elected bodies, the emperor would come to know the needs and desires of the colonial population, reinforcing that sacred relationship between sovereign and people. ‘Our Sovereign, who has wanted to be placed in direct communication with the population, can only persist in a way that gives truth free access to Him’, Guérin contended.108 In essence, what colonists were calling for was the creation of a trans-Mediterranean electorate, one afforded access to Algerian policymaking and, by proxy, incorporated into the bond uniting emperor and people. Colonists appealed to the democratic elements implicit in Bonapartism and emphasized their desire to communicate directly with their sovereign, yet arabophiles were quick to discount these appeal to liberty. If colons like Fonvielle criticized the empty rhetoric of colonial officials, arabophile critics were keen to direct this criticism right back at the colonists. ‘[They] bellow the cry of Vive l’Empereur on every occasion,’ Urbain ridiculed, ‘but they seek to hinder all serious reform through their secretive intrigues.’109 In the struggle to influence official opinion, colon spokesmen were forced to compete with a military bureaucracy that was better organized and benefited from directed access to the emperor. More broadly, however, that the European colonists were only one constituent part of Algerian society as the emperor was coming to imagine it remained a problem. The policy of the Arab Kingdom altered Algerian politics in significant ways, signalling Napoleon III’s willingness to see the colony as a multi-ethnic community defined by varied and particular relationships to a national dynasty. ‘I have Christian and Muslim children . . .’, he assured an audience of Algerian notables in 1865. ‘My justice will be equal for all.’110 Speeches and festivities staged for the sake of the native population certainly demonstrated Napoleon III’s skill at ‘playing Muslim’, but these efforts at self-fashioning were never divorced from the general conception of sovereignty adhered to by Bonapartists. During the state visit le sultan Napoléon also bestowed awards on European colonists, met with the Algerian archbishop and attended Mass in Algiers and Blida. If Napoleon III spoke the political language of Islam, he equally espoused the discourse of a Christian and national sovereign. In these various iterations of sovereignty, Napoleon III adroitly cultivated the image of a national monarch capable of uniting all the peoples of a diverse French Empire. In this context, Bonapartism elaborated and even prefigured many of the symbols and discourses that would characterize the ‘invented traditions’ and pageantry of royal government later in the century. The pretence of a Napoleonic sultan anticipated the Ottomanism and Islamism of the Hamidian era just as Bonapartist national dynasticism hinted at the ‘dynastic patriotism’ cultivated in the latter years of the Habsburg Empire.111 That the French polity would move in a decisively republican direction after 1870 should not obscure the continuities that exist with later developments across the continent, as absolutist regimes underwent a phase of ideological retrenchment to accommodate the currents of modern nationalism. The particular style of Bonapartist discourse lent itself to multiple representations of sovereignty that permitted Napoleon III to be, at once, a French and Arab emperor. These identities acquired their consistency through the public spectacles and pageantry staged during official visits to the colony. In festivities and official proclamations, the image promoted was that of a multi-ethnic French imperial community over a homogenous national one. Through its dynastic and patriotic elements, Bonapartism was capable of advancing a brand of imperial diversity that both spoke to republican ideas of national sovereignty while drawing upon older forms of corporatism and social exclusivity. Yet even as Bonapartist policies constructed an imagined French imperial community, they simultaneously engendered and reinforced many of divisions running through the heart of Algerian society. In appealing to colonial subjects, Bonapartism distinguished between a European constituency juxtaposed against a native community defined in terms of its Arab nationality and Islamic identification. These groupings would characterize the front lines of an ongoing struggle over Algerian sovereignty and, later, independence throughout the century. Maintaining both an ‘Arab Kingdom’ and a ‘French Algeria’ was only sustainable through an authoritative sovereign capable of representing and publicly engaging with a plurality of social groups and interests. Once this lynchpin was removed, the common imperial edifice would collapse. Iterations of Bonapartist sovereignty in Algeria shed light on the various inconsistencies and ambiguities that have often been attributed to a movement which at once appeared authoritarian, popular and democratic in substance. Imperial politics encouraged public displays of loyalty and spectacle, giving Bonapartism a distinct culture that drew upon and synthesized a number of different political traditions and discourses. It relied strongly upon a sacralized vision of sovereignty, emphasizing the bond uniting people and ruler. This discourse encouraged emotive displays of devotion that could assume numerous forms of expression and adapt to national and imperial frameworks as needed. If the impassioned and unanimous crowd took centre stage in national narratives, the colonial milieu brought forth a range of representations moulded to fit the contours of an inherently diverse society. In Algeria, the various registers of Bonapartist political culture were on full display, fusing elements of religion, nationality and dynastic loyalty to varying degrees. Through public celebrations and imperial pageantry, the Second Empire used the forms of a revolutionary political culture to articulate a brand of imperial and dynastic sovereignty that deviated from republican principles in crucial ways. The aggressive secularism and universalism ascendant during the Third Republic contrasted markedly with Napoleon III’s colonial policies and the pluralistic representations of sovereignty they encouraged. All the same, however, Bonapartist discourse and policies did shape France’s emerging colonial culture during the mid-nineteenth century, revealing the continuity of a specific colonial logic when it came to Algerian politics. The post-revolutionary period was, in many ways, a laboratory in which contending ideologies merged and took on hybridized forms. While 1870 is commonly thought of as a ‘break’ in modern French history, it is difficult to ignore that the founders of the Third Republic were responsive to the Bonapartist culture which loomed over the formative years of their political and journalistic careers.112 Republicans would similarly instrumentalize Islam, nurture a particular idea of Islam français among natives and persist in working through local intermediaries to consolidate France’s hold over its North African empire.113 These facets of Algerian policy owed much to the years of Bonapartist rule. Nevertheless, the sovereign bond between people and republic remained confined to an imagined body of European citizens. It did not extend to the various communities and ‘tribes’ populating France’s vast empire. The Bonapartist synthesis relied upon a personal form of rule that situated a plurality of cultural and social groups in relation to the sovereign. Republican democracy confined this ‘sacred’ bond to an atomized citizenry invested with universal rights.114 Republicans may have been disposed to borrow certain aspects of Bonapartist discourse, but they were not inclined to compromise their principles. Supplanting the diversified imperial sovereignty of Bonapartist personal rule was the republican logic of colonial citizenship and differentiation and with it the ideology that would underpin a republican vision of empire in the years ahead. Research for this article was funded through the State Academic University for the Humanities (Russia) with the support of project N 14.Z50.31.0045 from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. Footnotes 1 ‘Arrivée de S. M. l’empereur à Alger’, Moniteur de l’Algérie, 4 May 1865. 2 P. MacMahon, Mémoires: souvenirs d’Algérie (Paris, 1923), 305. 3 W. 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Gerson, The Pride of Place: Local Memories and Political Culture in Nineteenth-Century France (Ithaca, NY, 2003); S. D. Kale, Legitimism and the Reconstruction of French Society, 1852–1883 (Baton Rouge, LA, 1992); S. Hazareesingh, From Subject to Citizen: The Second Empire and the Emergence of Modern French Democracy (Princeton, 1998). 20 M. Truesdell, Spectacular Politics: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and the Fête Impériale, 1849–1870 (New York, 1997). 21 Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Discours, messages et proclamations de l’empereur (Paris, 1860), 226. 22 Persigny, ‘Circulaire sur les élections de 1852’, in Le Duc de Persigny et les doctrines de l’empire, ed. J. Delaroa (Paris, 1865), 39. 23 E. Warmington, Qu’est-ce que le Bonapartisme? (Paris, 1852), 94. 24 Ménager, Les Napoléon du peuple. 25 Le Temps, 10 May 1863. 26 P. Dwyer, ‘Napoleon, the revolution, and the empire’, in Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution, 574–83. 27 P. 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Mariot, ‘Qu’est-ce qu’un “enthusiasme civique”? sur l’historiographie des fêtes politiques en France après 1789’, Annales. Historie, Sciences Sociales, 1 (2003), 131, 137–8. 32 Hazareesingh, From Subject to Citizen, 40–89. 33 Quoted in F. Salmon, ‘La gauche avancée en 1849 et en 1870’, in Les Républicains sous le Second Empire, ed. L. Hamon (Paris, 1993), 98. 34 S. Hazareesingh, The Saint-Napoleon: Celebrations of Sovereignty in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge, 2004); J. R. Lehning, The Melodramatic Thread: Spectacle and Political Culture in Modern France (Bloomington, IN, 2007), 41–2. 35 On Bonapartism and patriotism: S. Hazareesingh, ‘Memory, legend and politics: Napoleonic patriotism in the Restoration era’, Eur. Jl Pol. Theory, 5 (2006), 71–84. 36 D. Grangues, La France sous la quatrième dynastie (Paris, 1858), 150. 37 Glikman, La Monarchie impériale, 71–81. 38 G. Cassagnac to M. 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Duval, ‘L’anniversaire du 13 juin en Algérie’, Revue de l’Orient, 12 (1852), 94, 90. 49 ‘Excursion de l’empereur dans l’arrondissement d’Alger’, Moniteur de l’Algérie, 5 May 1865. 50 Voyage de leurs majestés en Algérie, 11. 51 A. Fonvielle, ‘L’empereur en Algérie’, Le Temps, 6 June 1865. 52 Bulletin Officiel de l’Algérie et des colonies, no. 2 (27 Oct. 1858), 51. 53 A[rchives] N[ationales] O[utre] M[er] GGA 17H/3, ‘Ministre secrétaire d’etat de l’Algérie et des colonies au procureur général’, Jan. 1860. 54 G. Voisin, L’Algérie pour les algériens (Paris, 1861); I. Urbain, L’Algérie française: indigènes et immigrants (Paris, 1862). 55 E. Girandin, ‘La question de l’Algérie’, La Presse, 14 Apr. 1865; F. Larcoix, L’Algérie et la lettre de l’empereur (Paris, 1863). 56 M. Levallois, Ismaÿl Urbain: royaume arabe ou Algérie franco-musulmane? (Paris, 2012), 515–60. 57 Y. Turin, Affrontements culturels dans l’Algérie colonial: écoles, médecines, religion, 1830–1880 (Algiers, 1983), 256, 280; E. 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Hist., 52 (2010), 553–80; Saaidia, Algérie coloniale; E. Burke III, The Ethnographic State: France and the Invention of Moroccan Islam (Berkeley, 2014). 114 J. Jennings, ‘Citizenship, republicanism and multiculturalism in contemporary France’, Brit. Jl Pol. Sci., 30 (2000), 575–97; D. Schapper, Community of Citizens: On the Modern Idea of Nationality (New Brunswick, 1998), 12–29; E. Saada, Empire’s Children: Race, Filiation and Citizenship in the French Colonies (Chicago, 2007); E. Thompson, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (New York, 2000); Cooper, Citizenship between Empire and Nation; Larcher, L’Autre Citoyen; Coller, Arab France, 14–16. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of French History. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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French HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Apr 4, 2018

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