Rethinking Algerian Visibility and Invisibility in Ali au Pays des Merveilles
This article examines Djouhra Abouda and Alain Bonnamy’s experimental documentary Ali au pays des merveilles (1975) and discusses how the filmmakers expose Algerian workers’ living conditions in the 1970s France, a promised land where racism and exclusion persist. This study analyses the visibility and invisibility of the Algerian labour by first discussing the exclusion of Algerian migrants on the basis of their racial identity and their social status, in light of thinking related to French republican identification. The author then examines the interrelations between the Algerian labour and the commodities produced by their labour, as well as the glamorous spectacle associated with the commodities. Finally, the article reflects on the reflexive archaeology of the image that questions the power and limits of archives, interrogating the entanglements of French colonial history in Algeria. The article argues that Abouda and Bonnamy’s stylistic devices are in line with those of the Third Cinema, providing an alternative that allows post-colonial sensibilities to challenge the official discourse and the self-claiming “universal” but indeed Eurocentric aesthetics.
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