Writing a dissertation can feel like a mountain you have to climb to finish your PhD, and often, one that you’re climbing alone. But graduate students at UW–Madison can embrace that journey with a group of other dissertators at the Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camp.
The dissertation writing camp, which takes place each year in January and May, provides students with dedicated time to write and discuss their work with peers, while also engaging in workshops about goal-setting, time management, and staying motivated.
“Being able to focus all my energy and time to writing and [being] in an environment where others were motivated to do the same made all the difference,” said dissertator Chelsea Blackburn Cohen, who participated in the writing camp in January.
When she applied for the camp, Blackburn Cohen wasn’t close to being finished with data analysis for her thesis, which focuses on the forced displacement of academics worldwide due to the political or ideological nature of their intellectual work. Being accepted to the camp prompted her to prepare her data. During camp, she was able to write almost an entire analytical chapter.
A partnership between the Writing Center and the UW–Madison Graduate School, along with funding from the Mellon Foundation and the State of Wisconsin, make the camps possible.
“The Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camps are intended to help dissertators develop effective writing habits; gain practice with setting and achieving writing goals; and experiment with new strategies for planning, drafting, and revising their dissertations,” said Nancy Linh Karls, who directs and coordinates the camps.
She added that participants benefit from the peer support offered by other dissertators in the camp and from individual consultations with Writing Center instructors about their writing.
In addition to providing extra motivation for many students, the camp serves as a support group. Fei Sun, a dissertator in the dairy science program, said being a dissertator can feel isolating if you’re the only one in your department. For Sun, being around other dissertators at the camp makes him feel like he’s not alone in his journey.
“I’m surrounded by 20 other people who have the same goal, and meanwhile we’re supported by the instructors if we have any questions,” he said.
As an international student whose first language is not English, Sun said the camp showed him that writing a thesis in English is difficult for international and American students alike.
“I would highly recommend more international students apply and participate in this camp,” he said.
Dissertation writing camp participant Katherine Robiadek said she became better at being her own coach through the writing process. She said the workshops led by Writing Center instructors helped her recognize her own approach to writing while also improving her style.
During writing time, participants can choose an area where they can talk with peers while working, or sit in a quiet space to work alone. Robiadek selected the quiet space, knowing that is how she works best. But at the end of each day, she said coming together with peers from units across campus to reflect on her progress was a valuable way to work toward her goals.
“That interdisciplinarity was really helpful to get us outside of our own departments,” she said. “We were able to really riff on each other and play off each other’s experiences.”
Not to be confused with Algerian Civil War.
|Part of the Cold War|
Collage of the French war in Algeria
|Commanders and leaders|
|Mourad Didouche †|
Mustapha Benboulaïd †
Larbi Ben M'Hidi
Ali La Pointe †
Youcef Zighoud †
Benali Boudghène †
Bachir Chihani †
Ali Mallah †
Colonel Amirouche †
Abane Ramdane †
Hocine Aït Ahmed
Ahmed Ben Bella
Ahmed Tewfik El Madani
Mohamed Lamine Debaghine
Mohammed Seddik Benyahia
Lakhdar Ben Tobbal
|Alphonse Djamate (1955–62)|
Paul Cherrière (1954–55)
Henri Lorillot (1955–56)
Jean Crepin (1960–61)
|300,000 identified 40,000 civilian support||470,000 (maximum reached and maintained from 1956 to 1962)|
1.5 million total mobilized 
more than 90,000 Harkis
|Casualties and losses|
|140,000 to 152,863 FLN soldiers  including 12,000 internal purges |
25,600 dead 
300,000 (including 55,000 to 60,000 civilians) Algerian casualties
The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian War of Independence or the Algerian Revolution (Arabic: الثورة الجزائرية Al-thawra Al-Jazaa'iriyya;, Berber languages: Tagrawla Tadzayrit;, French: Guerre d'Algérie or Révolution algérienne) was a war between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front (French: Front de Libération Nationale – FLN) from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. An important decolonization war, it was a complex conflict characterized by guerrilla warfare, maquis fighting, and the use of torture by both sides. The conflict also became a civil war between the different communities and within the communities. The war took place mainly on the territory of Algeria, with repercussions in metropolitan France.
Effectively started by members of the National Liberation Front (FLN) on November 1, 1954, during the Toussaint Rouge ("Red All Saints' Day"), the conflict led to serious political crises in France, causing the fall of the Fourth French Republic (1946–58) replaced by the Fifth Republic with a strengthened Presidency. The brutality of the methods employed by the French forces failed to win hearts and minds in Algeria, alienated support in metropolitan France and discredited French prestige abroad.
After major demonstrations in Algiers and several other cities in favor of independence (1960)  and a United Nations resolution recognizing the right to independence,De Gaulle decided to open a series of negotiations with the FLN. These concluded with the signing of the Évian Accords in March 1962. A referendum took place on 8 April 1962 and the French electorate approved the Évian Accords. The final result was 91% in favor of the ratification of this agreement  and on 1 July, the Accords were subject to a second referendum in Algeria, where 99.72% voted for independence and just 0.28% against.
The planned French withdrawal led to a state crisis. This included various assassination attempts on de Gaulle as well as some attempts at military coups. Most of the former were carried out by the Organisation armée secrète (OAS), an underground organization formed mainly from French military personnel supporting a French Algeria, which committed a large number of bombings and murders both in Algeria and in the homeland to stop the planned independence.
Upon independence in 1962, 900,000 European-Algerians (Pieds-noirs) fled to France within a few months in fear of the FLN's revenge. The French government was totally unprepared for the vast number of refugees, which caused turmoil in France. The majority of Algerian Muslims who had worked for the French were disarmed and left behind as the treaty between French and Algerian authorities declared that no actions could be taken against them. However, the Harkis in particular, having served as auxiliaries with the French army, were regarded as traitors by the FLN and between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and family members were murdered by the FLN or by lynch-mobs, often after being abducted and tortured[dubious– discuss]. About 91,000 managed to flee to France, some with help from their French officers acting against orders, and as of 2016[update] they and their descendants form a significant part of the Algerian-French population.
Background: French Algeria
Main articles: French rule in Algeria, Pacification of Algeria, and Nationalism and resistance in Algeria
Conquest of Algeria
Main article: French conquest of Algeria
On the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded Algeria in 1830. Directed by Marshall Bugeaud, who became the first Governor-General of Algeria, the conquest was violent, marked by a "scorched earth" policy designed to reduce the power of the native rulers Dey; this included massacres, mass rapes, and other atrocities. Between 500,000 and 1,000,000, from approximately 3 million Algerians, were killed within the first three decades of the conquest. French losses from 1830–51 were 3,336 killed in action and 92,329 dead in the hospital.
In 1834, Algeria became a French military colony and was subsequently declared by the constitution of 1848 to be an integral part of France and divided into three departments (Alger, Oran and Constantine). Many French and other Europeans (Spanish, Italians, Maltese, and others) later settled in Algeria.
Under the Second Empire (1852–1871), the Code de l'indigénat (Indigenous Code) was implemented by the Sénatus-consulte of July 14, 1865. It allowed Muslims to apply for full French citizenship, a measure that few took, since it involved renouncing the right to be governed by sharia law in personal matters and was considered a kind of apostasy. Its first article stipulated:
The indigenous Muslim is French; however, he will continue to be subjected to Muslim law. He may be admitted to serve in the army (armée de terre) and the navy (armée de mer). He may be called to functions and civil employment in Algeria. He may, on his demand, be admitted to enjoy the rights of a French citizen; in this case, he is subjected to the political and civil laws of France.
However, prior to 1870, fewer than 200 demands were registered by Muslims and 152 by Jewish Algerians. The 1865 decree was then modified by the 1870 Crémieux decrees, which granted French nationality to Jews living in one of the three Algerian departments. In 1881, the Code de l'Indigénat made the discrimination official by creating specific penalties for indigènes and organizing the seizure or appropriation of their lands.
After World War II, equality of rights was proclaimed by the Ordonnance of March 7, 1944, and later confirmed by the Loi Lamine Guèye of May 7, 1946, which granted French citizenship to all the subjects of France's territories and overseas departments, and by the 1946 Constitution. The Law of September 20, 1947, granted French citizenship to all Algerian subjects, who were not required to renounce their Muslim personal status.[dubious– discuss]
Algeria was unique to France because, unlike all other overseas possessions acquired by France during the 19th century, only Algeria was considered and legally classified an integral part of France.
Both Muslim and European Algerians took part in World War I, fighting for France. Algerian Muslims served as tirailleurs (such regiments were created as early as 1842) and spahis; and French settlers as Zouaves or Chasseurs d'Afrique. With Wilson's 1918 proclamation of the Fourteen Points, the fifth reading: "A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined", some Algerian intellectuals—dubbed oulémas—began to nurture the desire for independence or, at least, autonomy and self-rule.
Within this context, a grandson[who?] of Abd el-Kadir spearheaded the resistance against the French in the first half of the 20th century. He was a member of the directing committee of the French Communist Party (PCF). In 1926, he founded the Étoile Nord-Africaine (North African Star) party, to which Messali Hadj, also a member of the PCF and of its affiliated trade union, the Confédération générale du travail unitaire (CGTU), joined the following year.
The North African Star broke from the PCF in 1928, before being dissolved in 1929 at Paris's demand. Amid growing discontent from the Algerian population, the Third Republic (1871–1940) acknowledged some demands, and the Popular Front initiated the Blum-Viollette proposal in 1936 which was supposed to enlighten the Indigenous Code by giving French citizenship to a small number of Muslims. The pieds-noirs (Algerians of European origin) violently demonstrated against it and the North African Party opposed it, leading to the project's abandonment. The pro-independence party was dissolved in 1937, and its leaders were charged with the illegal reconstitution of a dissolved league, leading to Messali Hadj's 1937 founding of the Parti du peuple algérien (Algerian People's Party, PPA), which, at this time, no longer espoused full independence but only extensive autonomy. This new party was dissolved in 1939. Under Vichy, the French state attempted to abrogate the Crémieux decree in order to suppress the Jews' French citizenship, but the measure was never implemented.
On the other hand, nationalist leader Ferhat Abbas founded the Algerian Popular Union (Union populaire algérienne) in 1938. In 1943 Abbas wrote the Algerian People's Manifesto (Manifeste du peuple algérien). Arrested after the Sétif massacre of May 8, 1945, during which the French Army and pieds-noirs mobs killed about 6,000 Algerians, Abbas founded the Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (UDMA) in 1946 and was elected as a deputy. Founded in 1954, the National Liberation Front (FLN) succeeded Messali Hadj's Algerian People's Party (PPA), while its leaders created an armed wing, the Armée de Libération Nationale (National Liberation Army) to engage in an armed struggle against French authority. France, which had just lost Indochina, was determined not to lose the next anti-colonial war, particularly not in its oldest and nearest major colony, which was regarded as an integral part of the republic.
Beginning of hostilities
In the early morning hours of November 1, 1954, FLN maquisards (guerrillas) attacked military and civilian targets throughout Algeria in what became known as the Toussaint Rouge (Red All-Saints' Day). From Cairo, the FLN broadcast a proclamation calling on Muslims in Algeria to join in a national struggle for the "restoration of the Algerian state – sovereign, democratic and social – within the framework of the principles of Islam." It was the reaction of Premier Pierre Mendès France (Radical-Socialist Party), who only a few months before had completed the liquidation of France's tete empire in Indochina, which set the tone of French policy for five years. He declared in the National Assembly, "One does not compromise when it comes to defending the internal peace of the nation, the unity and integrity of the Republic. The Algerian departments are part of the French Republic. They have been French for a long time, and they are irrevocably French. ... Between them and metropolitan France there can be no conceivable secession." At first, and despite the Sétif massacre of May 8, 1945, and the pro-Independence struggle before World War II, most Algerians were in favor of a relative status-quo. While Messali Hadj had radicalized by forming the FLN, Ferhat Abbas maintained a more moderate, electoral strategy. Fewer than 500 fellaghas (pro-Independence fighters) could be counted at the beginning of the conflict. The Algerian population radicalized itself in particular because of the terrorist acts of French-sponsored Main Rouge (Red Hand) group, which targeted anti-colonialists in all of the Maghreb region (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria), killing, for example, Tunisian activist Farhat Hached in 1952.
The FLN uprising presented nationalist groups with the question of whether to adopt armed revolt as the main course of action. During the first year of the war, Ferhat Abbas's Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (UDMA), the ulema, and the Algerian Communist Party (PCA) maintained a friendly neutrality toward the FLN. The communists, who had made no move to cooperate in the uprising at the start, later tried to infiltrate the FLN, but FLN leaders publicly repudiated the support of the party. In April 1956, Abbas flew to Cairo, where he formally joined the FLN. This action brought in many évolués who had supported the UDMA in the past. The AUMA also threw the full weight of its prestige behind the FLN. Bendjelloul and the pro-integrationist moderates had already abandoned their efforts to mediate between the French and the rebels.
After the collapse of the MTLD, the veteran nationalist Messali Hadj formed the leftistMouvement National Algérien (MNA), which advocated a policy of violent revolution and total independence similar to that of the FLN, but aimed to compete with that organisation. The Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN), the military wing of the FLN, subsequently wiped out the MNA guerrilla operation in Algeria, and Messali Hadj's movement lost what little influence it had had there. However, the MNA retained the support of many Algerian workers in France through the Union Syndicale des Travailleurs Algériens (the Union of Algerian Workers). The FLN also established a strong organization in France to oppose the MNA. The "Café wars", resulting in nearly 5,000 deaths, were waged in France between the two rebel groups throughout the years of the War of Independence.
On the political front, the FLN worked to persuade—and to coerce—the Algerian masses to support the aims of the independence movement through contributions. FLN-influenced labor unions, professional associations, and students' and women's organizations were created to lead opinion in diverse segments of the population, but here too, violent coercion was widely used. Frantz Fanon, a psychiatrist from Martinique who became the FLN's leading political theorist, provided a sophisticated intellectual justification for the use of violence in achieving national liberation. From Cairo, Ahmed Ben Bella ordered the liquidation of potential interlocuteurs valables, those independent representatives of the Muslim community acceptable to the French through whom a compromise or reforms within the system might be achieved.
As the FLN campaign of influence spread through the countryside, many European farmers in the interior (called Pieds-Noirs), many of whom lived on lands taken from Muslim communities during the nineteenth century, sold their holdings and sought refuge in Algiers and other Algerian cities. After a series of bloody, random massacres and bombings by Muslim Algerians in several towns and cities, the French Pieds-Noirs and urban French population began to demand that the French government engage in sterner countermeasures, including the proclamation of a state of emergency, capital punishment for political crimes, denunciation of all separatists, and most ominously, a call for 'tit-for-tat' reprisal operations by police, military, and para-military forces. Colon vigilante units, whose unauthorized activities were conducted with the passive cooperation of police authorities, carried out ratonnades (literally, rat-hunts, raton being a racist term for denigrating Muslim Algerians) against suspected FLN members of the Muslim community.
By 1955, effective political action groups within the Algerian colonial community succeeded in convincing many of the governors general sent by Paris that the military was not the way to resolve the conflict. A major success was the conversion of Jacques Soustelle, who went to Algeria as governor general in January 1955 determined to restore peace. Soustelle, a one-time leftist and by 1955 an ardent Gaullist, began an ambitious reform program (the Soustelle Plan) aimed at improving economic conditions among the Muslim population.
After the Philippeville massacre
The FLN adopted tactics similar to those of nationalist groups in Asia, and the French did not realize the seriousness of the challenge they faced until 1955, when the FLN moved into urbanized areas. "An important watershed in the War of Independence was the massacre of Pieds-Noirs civilians by the FLN near the town of Philippeville (now known as Skikda) in August, 1955. Before this operation, FLN policy was to attack only military and government-related targets. The commander of the Constantinewilaya/region, however, decided a drastic escalation was needed. The killing by the FLN and its supporters of 123 people, including 71 French, including old women and babies, shocked Jacques Soustelle into calling for more repressive measures against the rebels. The French authorities stated that 1,273 guerrillas died in what Soustelle admitted were "severe" reprisals. The FLN subsequently claimed that 12,000 Muslims were killed. Soustelle's repression was an early cause of the Algerian population's rallying to the FLN. After Philippeville, Soustelle declared sterner measures and an all-out war began. In 1956, demonstrations by French Algerians caused the French government to not make reforms.
Soustelle's successor, Governor General Lacoste, a socialist, abolished the Algerian Assembly. Lacoste saw the assembly, which was dominated by pieds-noirs, as hindering the work of his administration, and he undertook the rule of Algeria by decree. He favored stepping up French military operations and granted the army exceptional police powers—a concession of dubious legality under French law—to deal with the mounting political violence. At the same time, Lacoste proposed a new administrative structure to give Algeria some autonomy and a decentralized government. Whilst remaining an integral part of France, Algeria was to be divided into five districts, each of which would have a territorial assembly elected from a single slate of candidates. Until 1958, deputies representing Algerian districts were able to delay the passage of the measure by the National Assembly of France.
In August and September 1956, the leadership of the FLN guerrillas operating within Algeria (popularly known as "internals") met to organize a formal policy-making body to synchronize the movement's political and military activities. The highest authority of the FLN was vested in the thirty-four member National Council of the Algerian Revolution (Conseil National de la Révolution Algérienne, CNRA), within which the five-man Committee of Coordination and Enforcement (Comité de Coordination et d'Exécution, CCE) formed the executive. The leadership of the regular FLN forces based in Tunisia and Morocco ("externals"), including Ben Bella, knew the conference was taking place but by chance or design on the part of the "internals" were unable to attend.
In October 1956, the French Air Force intercepted a Moroccan DC-3 bound for Tunis, carrying Ahmed Ben Bella, Mohammed Boudiaf, Mohamed Khider and Hocine Aït Ahmed, and forced it to land in Algiers. Lacoste had the FLN external political leaders arrested and imprisoned for the duration of the war. This action caused the remaining rebel leaders to harden their stance.
France opposed Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's material and political assistance to the FLN, which some French analysts believed was the revolution's main sustenance. This attitude was a factor in persuading France to participate in the November 1956 British attempt to seize the Suez Canal during the Suez Crisis.
During 1957, support for the FLN weakened as the breach between the internals and externals widened. To halt the drift, the FLN expanded its executive committee to include Abbas, as well as imprisoned political leaders such as Ben Bella. It also convinced communist and Arab members of the United Nations (UN) to put diplomatic pressure on the French government to negotiate a cease-fire. In 1957, it become common knowledge in France that French Army was routinely using torture to extract information from suspected FLN members.Hubert Beuve-Méry, the editor of Le Monde declared in an edition on 13 March 1957: "From now on, Frenchman must know that they don't have the right to condemn in the same terms as ten years ago the destruction of Oradour and the torture by the Gestapo." Another case that attracted much media attention was the murder of Maurice Audin, a Communist math professor at the University of Algiers and a suspected FLN member who the French Army arrested in June 1957. Audin was tortured and killed and his body was never found. As Audin was French rather than Algerian, his "disappearance" while in the custody of the French Army led to the case becoming a cause célèbre as his widow aided by the historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet determinedly used sought to have the men responsible for her husband's death prosecuted.
Existentialist writer, philosopher and playwright Albert Camus, native of Algiers, tried unsuccessfully to persuade both sides to at least leave civilians alone, writing editorials against the use of torture in Combat newspaper. The FLN considered him a fool, and some Pieds-Noirs considered him a traitor. Nevertheless, in his speech when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, Camus said that when faced with a radical choice he would eventually support his community. This statement made him lose his status among left-wing intellectuals; when he died in 1960 in a car crash, the official thesis of an ordinary accident (a quick open-and-shut case) left more than a few observers doubtful. His widow claimed that Camus, though discreet, was in fact an ardent supporter of French Algeria in the last years of his life.
Battle of Algiers
Main article: Battle of Algiers (1956–57)
To increase international and domestic French attention to their struggle, the FLN decided to bring the conflict to the cities and to call a nationwide general strike and also to plant bombs in public places. The most notable instance was the Battle of Algiers, which began on September 30, 1956, when three women, including Djamila Bouhired and Zohra Drif, simultaneously placed bombs at three sites including the downtown office of Air France. The FLN carried out shootings and bombings in the spring of 1957, resulting in civilian casualties and a crushing response from the authorities.
General Jacques Massu was instructed to use whatever methods deemed necessary to restore order in the city and to find and eliminate terrorists. Using paratroopers, he broke the strike and, in the succeeding months, destroyed the FLN infrastructure in Algiers. But the FLN had succeeded in showing its ability to strike at the heart of French Algeria and to assemble a mass response to its demands among urban Muslims. The publicity given to the brutal methods used by the army to win the Battle of Algiers, including the use of torture, strong movement control and curfew called quadrillage and where all authority was under the military, created doubt in France about its role in Algeria. What was originally "pacification" or a "public order operation" had turned into a colonial war accompanied by torture.
During 1956 and 1957, the FLN successfully applied hit-and-run tactics in accordance with guerrilla warfare theory. Whilst some of this was aimed at military targets, a significant amount was invested in a terror campaign against those in any way deemed to support or encourage French authority. This resulted in acts of sadistic torture and brutal violence against all, including women and children. Specializing in ambushes and night raids and avoiding direct contact with superior French firepower, the internal forces targeted army patrols, military encampments, police posts, and colonial farms, mines, and factories, as well as transportation and communications facilities. Once an engagement was broken off, the guerrillas merged with the population in the countryside, in accordance with Mao's theories. Kidnapping was commonplace, as were the ritual murder and mutilation of civilians[dubious– discuss] (see Torture section).
Although successfully provoking fear and uncertainty within both communities in Algeria, the revolutionaries' coercive tactics suggested that they had not yet inspired the bulk of the Muslim people to revolt against French colonial rule. Gradually, however, the FLN gained control in certain sectors of the Aurès, the Kabylie, and other mountainous areas around Constantine and south of Algiers and Oran. In these places, the FLN established a simple but effective—although frequently temporary—military administration that was able to collect taxes and food and to recruit manpower. But it was never able to hold large, fixed positions.
The loss of competent field commanders both on the battlefield and through defections and political purges created difficulties for the FLN. Moreover, power struggles in the early years of the war split leadership in the wilayat, particularly in the Aurès. Some officers created their own fiefdoms, using units under their command to settle old scores and engage in private wars against military rivals within the FLN.
French counter-insurgency operations
Despite complaints from the military command in Algiers, the French government was reluctant for many months to admit that the Algerian situation was out of control and that what was viewed officially as a pacification operation had developed into a war. By 1956, there were more than 400,000 French troops in Algeria. Although the elite colonial infantry airborne units and the Foreign Legion