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Grandstand. The lifetime of Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) impressed each prosecutors and hagiographers, each as bored with historic rigor as previously. Having already had the chance to look at the prose of hagiographers many instances, we are going to solely communicate right here of the prosecutors, whose present vogue of debunking of statues and the prospect of the upcoming canonization of the hermit of Tamanrasset got here to revive the zealous.
To imagine some, Foucauld would have been the " defender of a complete battle in opposition to Germany within the Nice Conflict "; for others, he would have had a " direct involvement in colonial army operations in opposition to insurgent tribes "And would have been" the incomparable auxiliary "De Laperrine, superior commander of the Saharan territories till 1910; for others nonetheless, he would have put ahead " concepts in favor of a disorganization of the Tuareg socio-political constructions »…
Foucauld " defender of whole battle "? Nice components. The battle was whole, and Foucauld might solely be aware of it. It’s a proven fact that he despatched exalted letters to his buddies engaged on the entrance, however his exaltation remained epistolary, as a result of the primary a part of his time was dedicated to the setting in focus of his linguistic works. Her work days typically lasted greater than eleven hours, and the result’s a piece which it’s troublesome to say as some try this it’s " inseparable from the colonial conquest "
Actually, it fully dissociates itself from it. His letters to his buddies on the entrance strains, in addition to his relations with Saharan officers, are a part of the period and they’re banal when put in context. However, his linguistic works, that’s to say, basically, the 2 volumes of his Tuareg poems and the 4 volumes of his Tuareg-French Dictionary, are nonetheless a reference for all specialists, together with Tuareg.
The implication " direct In army operations is a pure invention. Foucauld had certainly devised a plan to reorganize the Tidikelt annex, however that remained unfulfilled. Equally, when Sub-Lieutenant Fixed needed to comply with up on Foucauld's proposals for the redevelopment of Fort Motylinski, he was repudiated by his superior, Captain de La Roche, for whom it was all " tactical heresy " Likewise, the correspondence of Lieutenant-Colonel Meynier suggests his skepticism about very imprecise info transmitted by Foucauld in August 1914.
As for the letters to Laperrine, they don’t justify the qualifier " incomparable auxiliary "Which Foucauld was awarded after their publication. Particularly if we expect that they date from a time when Laperrine, who returned to France, not had any duty within the Sahara. The hermit used to tell his officer buddies of the state of affairs within the Sahara, however he was little greater than a type of gazetteer whose " info ", Which took a number of weeks to achieve their recipients, have been neither usable nor of nice operational curiosity. As well as, assert as we’ve learn not too long ago that "His info equipped to the colonial military influenced the technique for conquering the" Tuareg nation "" is an anachronism. When Foucauld reached the Tuareg nation in February 1904, the chief and future amenokal Moussa Ag-Amastan has simply signed a treaty with the army. In different phrases, the "conquest" was already completed earlier than it even received there.
In any case, neither Foucauld nor his spiritual superiors then had any decision-making energy. He might solely affect these intermediaries, these actors on the bottom, who have been the officers who then intervened on the Hoggar. However, even when the latter typically relayed his requests, the upper authorities, each in Algiers and in Paris, opposed it. This is sufficient to put Foucauld’s function and political affect into perspective. To see in him a type of grasp of considered the Saharan coverage of France and the distant inspiration of this ephemeral widespread Group of the Saharan areas (OCRS) that France created in 1957 is to overlook the sense of proportion.
"Brotherhood written on all our partitions"
As for colonial concepts, he actually shared them. However his opinions determined in opposition to good conscience then. That is how, in a letter of 1912, he suggested Moussa Ag-Amastan to make his household be taught French, in order that they "Could, after a sure time, get pleasure from the identical rights because the French, have the identical privileges as them, be represented like them within the Chamber of Deputies, and be ruled identical to them". He actually didn’t see the way forward for the Tuareg anyplace aside from in a French group, however no less than he in the end assigned that of full residents to them.
In February 1956 once more, a president of the Council was taken in by the "ultras" of Algiers for a lot lower than that. He additionally wrote in that very same 12 months 1912: " If, oblivious of the love of neighbor commanded by God, our widespread Father, and of the brotherhood written on all our partitions, we deal with these peoples (colonized) not as youngsters, however by way of exploitation, the union that we gave them will flip in opposition to us and they’re going to throw us into the ocean on the first European problem. "
Little question he noticed there within the colonized solely youngsters, however there have been many, in 1912, those that thought of that, even within the colonies, the " fraternity written on all our partitions "Shouldn’t be left an empty phrase? That Foucauld was a person of his time, nobody desires of denying it and it’s all the time helpful to element this trait of the character (which we’ve not stopped doing in our work), however to make it an "extremely" of colonization is absurd.
In brief, the function of historians is to not unseat statues, nor, furthermore, to construct them. And the typically blurred picture that they handle to recompose is rarely fully black or fully white.
Dominique Casajus, emeritus analysis director at CNRS and member of the Institute of African worlds, has notably printed Charles de Foucauld, monk and scientist, CNRS Editions (2009).
Paul Pandolfi, Professor Emeritus at Paul-Valéry-Montpellier III College, has notably printed The Conquest of the Sahara (1885-1905), ed. Karthala (2018).