Taking a vacation in the bled, by Jennifer Bidet (Le Monde diplomatique, August 2022)

An upside-down mirror of Algerian immigration

Every year, tens of thousands of French people of Algerian origin travel to the country of their ancestors to spend their summer holidays. Preparing a return plan, keeping ties with your family, enjoying inexpensive seaside resorts…: these “ holiday in bled » take on different forms and meanings according to the times and the profile of the travellers.

Kader Attia. – “ Schizophrenic melancholy », 2018

© ADAGP, Paris 2022 – kaderattia.de

Prinses 2022, in the Paris region: Warda and her sisters are discussing an upcoming stay in Algeria. Born in France in the 1960s-1970s to parents who immigrated in the 1950s-1960s, they are not used to holiday in bled “. Their passages in the native country of their parents can be counted on the fingers of the hand, even if, via WhatsApp, they maintain complicit links with their cousins ​​on the spot. It is to pay tribute to their mother, who died a year earlier of an infection linked to Covid-19, that they are now planning to cross the Mediterranean. After sixty years of life in France, where her six children and eleven grandchildren were born, Fatima rests next to her husband, who died a few years earlier, in the cemetery of the village where they both came from. The health crisis did not allow Warda and her sisters to accompany the remains of their mother and to honor her burial, with their relatives from Algeria. Hence the idea of ​​leaving this summer. Or in the fall…

Because, after two years of health crisis and border closures, going to Algeria is not easy. As the country opens up again, the disruption of air and sea transport caused by the pandemic, combined with the long-criticized management of public transport companies (in particular Air Algérie), is hampering the strong demand for this destination. On the mobile phones of French people from Algeria or Algerians from France, there are videos of endless waiting files and panic movements in front of travel agencies in Paris and Marseilles.

In the 2010s, the Algerian border police counted around 700,000 annual entries of “ Algerians residing abroad “, most of them coming from France – emigrants but also descendants of emigrants who benefit from Algerian nationality by “ right of blood », and can travel with an Algerian passport. National statistical surveys reveal to (…)

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Jenifer Bidet

Lecturer in sociology at the University of Paris Cité. Author of Holidays in town. The double presence of the children of immigrants, Reasons to act, Paris, 2021.

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