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Purpose: The article examines the trial of French General Paul Aussaresses (b. 1918, d. 2013) in the 2000s for war crimes committed during the Algerian War (1954 to 1962).
Approach/Methodology/Design: A historiographical analysis covering topics such as colonialism, public memory, collective memory, counter-narratives, education, forgetting, and authenticity.
Findings: Public history without individual memories or lived experiences of communities that have survived historical events can be viewed as inauthentic. It might even be called propaganda to present only state state-sanctioned accounts of historical events. Many governments will consequently enact laws to distinguish between what constitutes official national narratives—and what remains peripheral, or perhaps extremist individual, historical accounts.
Practical Implications: This paper contributes to the scholarly literature examining oral testimonials in political and war crime tribunals, and the ethics of conducting public history research using media archives.
Originality/value: Towards a greater understanding of collective memory processes, the case of the Algerian War reveals the constant negotiations, formal networks, and informal channels used to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate sources of historical memory—and the consequences on culture, law, and society.
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