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Andrea Smith, assistant professor of anthropology at Lafayette, has received a $24,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to complete work on a book about the social memory of “pieds-noirs,” former settlers or colonists of Algeria who moved to France in 1962, focusing on those of Maltese origin.

“Over half of the ‘French’ settlers of Algeria were originally from Spain, Italy, or Malta,” says Smith. “Naturalized in the colony, they were ‘repatriated’ to France in 1962 at the end of the French-Algerian war. This work explores the meanings of this ‘repatriation’ for non-French settlers, many of whom were moving to a country that they had never seen.”

Smith also is editor of Europe’s Invisible Migrants: Consequences of the Colonists’ Return, a book on a related topic that will be published next month by Amsterdam University Press. Through essays by prominent sociologists, historians, and anthropologists, the volume highlights the experiences of colonists returning to France, Portugal, and the Netherlands; the intersections of race, citizenship, and colonial ideologies; and the ways in which these migrations have reflected the return of the “colonial” to Europe.

Through Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, several students have collaborated with Smith on research that helped establish the foundation for the book on pieds-noirs, tentatively titled Place, Replaced: Malta in the Pied-noir Imagination. In EXCEL, students assist faculty with research while earning a stipend.

Shivani Malhotra ’03, an economics and business major from Bangalore, India, investigated the absence of research on colonists returning to Britain. The work culminated in a paper, “The Missing Colonists: Silences in British Post-colonial Studies,” which Smith presented in July at the annual conference of the Institute of British History, University of London, and an article they co-wrote and will submit to a journal shortly.

Jennifer Bennett ’03, an anthropology and sociology major from Gray, Maine, worked on Europe’s Invisible Migrants, helping Smith create a bibliography she will use in preparing the book on pieds-noirs. Bennett’s work included identifying dates regarding the colonization and decolonization of French, Portuguese, British, and Dutch colonies; finding maps that show the composition of colonies over extended time periods; proofreading the manuscript; cross-referencing references; standardizing format; and asking questions to ensure the clarity of the manuscript.

Aytugce Birerdinc ’03, a government and law major from Istanbul, Turkey, is interpreting a series of murders committed by Maltese in the Ottoman Empire borderlands during the 19th century. Using specialized journals written in English, Turkish, and French, she has conducted research on blood feuds, revenge killings, honor codes, and hospitality rules in the eastern Mediterranean.

Emmanuel Kirunda ’05, a civil engineering major from Iganga, Uganda, assisted Smith in finding sources for the book on pieds-noirs.

Smith has conducted archival and ethnographic research on the personal meaning of Malta to Maltese pieds-noirs in France, Tunisia, Malta, and the United Kingdom since 1995. Soon after arriving in France in 1962, pieds-noirs of Maltese origin were the only ones to form ethnically based social clubs, and began to visit Malta, she notes.

“This spontaneous activity has escalated to such a point that multiple tours representing clubs from different parts of France now meet by chance in Malta, and Air Malta has rerouted its services to accommodate the travelers,” says Smith. “How can we explain this Maltese pilgrimage phenomenon? Given the fact that most club members are at least third generation French citizens, why have so many formed these clubs along ethnic lines?”

Smith followed members of one club for several years to seek answers to these questions.

“At first glance, the trips to Malta could be viewed as representing yet another instance of a population displaced, returning to the ancestral homeland in conjunction with an ethnic revitalization movement,” says Smith. “As my work illustrates, however, the reasons for these trips, and the widespread longing for Malta, are more complex and are revealed in the wider context of colonial nostalgia and the sensory memory of place. I argue that for these former settlers, Malta serves not as an ancestral homeland, but as a replacement for their ‘real’ homeland, Algeria.”

In addition to EXCEL Scholars projects, Smith maintains an active schedule of student mentoring. This semester, she guided independent studies by Cori Brindle ’03 (Harrisburg, Pa.), a double major in English and anthropology and sociology, on women’s heritage movements focused on the Civil War; and Jennifer Roberts ’03 (Royersford, Pa.), a double major in religion and anthropology and sociology, on education, culture and power. This spring, she will mentor Maura Oliphant ’03, a double major in English and anthropology and sociology, in an independent study on the state management of foster care in Ireland.

Smith has published several book chapters as well as articles in Journal of Mediterranean Studies, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Journal of Anthropological Research, and Journal of Historical Sociology. She has shared her research at many conferences, including several presentations in French in France and Tunisia, and conferences held by the Institute of Contemporary British History, University of London; National Women’s Studies Association, Las Vegas, Nev.; Columbia University, New York, N.Y.; American Anthropological Association, Washington, D.C.; Oral History Association, St. Louis, Mo.; and American Sociological Association, Anaheim, Calif.

Smith is a recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, Social Science Research Council, American Institute for Maghrebi Studies, and Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. She has been awarded first prize in an Association for Political and Legal Anthropology paper competition, Best Scholarly Article from the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute, University of Arizona, and a Paper Prize from Columbia University’s Institute on Western Europe.

Smith has served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of French Studies, New York University, and a faculty mentor for the Undergraduate Research Experience in Native American Archaeology and Heritage Preservation at University of Arizona. She earned a master’s and Ph.D. from University of Arizona and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.

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