Following the defeat of the Paris Commune, Louise Michel was banished to New Caledonia. There she mixed with some Algerians who had been sent there in the wake of the 1871 uprisings in Kabylia. They got on famously. She promised them that she would visit their homeland as soon as it was feasible. She was as good as her word.
This book retraces the links between exiled Communards and the exiles from Kabylia, then looks at the trip that Louise Michel and Ernest Girault made to Algeria some decades later, between October and December 1904. It was a working visit for it was punctuated by several dozen lectures denouncing religion, militarism, oppression and colonial exploitation and urging social revolution. To packed halls every time.
This was Louise Michel’s last ever trip, for she died in Marseilles in 1905. ‘Oddly’ this period in Louise Michel’s life has been all but entirely hidden. This book therefore corrects an ‘oversight’ and is well worth the trouble. That applies to French and Algerians alike.
Louise Michel en Algérie, by Clotilde Chauvin (Saint-Georges d’Oléron: Les éditions libertaires, 2007, 157 pp.) Price 15 (c.£10-£11)
From: CIRA Marseilles bulletin. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.
In KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 50-51, July 2007 [Double issue]