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Bureaux Arabes

BUREAUX ARABES

french military administration in algeria, 18301847.

The expansion of French power and influence in Algeria after the July 1830 conquest of Algiers necessitated intermediaries besides interpreters to deal with both Arab and Berber tribes. A systematic administration run by specially trained military officers was structured by Governor-General Thomas-Robert Bugeaud de la Piconnerie and established by decree in 1844 to execute this service. These bureaux arabes provided the governor-general with mediation and intelligence. The officers viewed their operations as a civilizing mission and were often paternalistic and protective of native rights. The civilian colons (European settlers in Algeria) resented this flaunted example of "rule by the sabre." After Bugeaud's departure (1847), the personnel and performance of the bureaux arabes declined. A French decree in October 1870 restructured the administration, which effectively ended the system though an analogous organization continued in south Algeria. The military resumed a similar political and social mission with the Sections Administratives Spécialisées (SAS) during the Algerian War of Independence (19541962).

see also algeria; algerian war of independence; algiers; bugeaud de la piconnerie, thomas-robert; colons.

Phillip C. Naylor

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