The French army's Saint-Simonian officers implemented an alternative project in order to realize their vision for “colonial association.” The project targeted the assimilationist tendencies of the French government and civil authorities, as well as rival military factions with contending views on colonization and pacification. Starting from the lowest levels of the military administration in the early 1840s, these officers expanded their power base in the Arab Bureaux to take gradual command of the native portfolio and control by the end of the decade the two main decision-making bodies for indigenous affairs on both sides of the Mediterranean: the Arab Directorate of the Government General in Algiers; and the Algerian Directorate of the Ministry of War in Paris. This chapter reviews the origins of the Offices of Arab Affairs, and traces the connections between the intellectual formation and training of their serving officers and the ideological tenets behind their drive to take over cultural policy making in Algeria.
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