Date of Award

5-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Historical Studies

First Advisor

Wiesen, Jonathan

Abstract

This dissertation explores the history of the French Algerian wine industry. The product of an ecological disaster in Europe the wine industry in French North Africa became the fourth largest producer of wine in the world by the mid-twentieth century. French Algeria played a leading role in "saving" the French wine industry during the Phylloxera crisis of the late nineteenth century. From 1863, this insect-borne disease had begun to spread in French vineyards. By the late 1870s, it had become a veritable epidemic, killing the vines that produced France's second most important product. French wine production, which had reached an all-time high in 1875, dropped by more than two-thirds before bottoming out in 1887. The devastation of French vineyards required that France import large amounts of wine from North Africa in order to replace the lost harvests. Scholars have recently turned their attention to the constructed relationship of drink, especially wine, to French identity. A tremendous gap exists in the cultural history of French Algeria, particularly where wine and empire are concerned. This dissertation seeks to redress this scholarly imbalance. Viewed as a conduit of "Frenchness" in French Algeria, debates about wine production in the region symbolized a broader intra-French struggle over French Algeria's place within "Greater France." This dissertation argues that the French Algerian wine industry played a significant role in the development of modern French identity.

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