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Making Peace with Your Enemy

In its comparative analysis of postcolonial South Africa and Algeria and its examination of narratives of ex-combatants, Making Peace with Your Enemy demonstrates how former adversaries face a similar challenge: how to extricate oneself from colonial domination and the violence of war in order to build relationships based on trust.

Making Peace with Your Enemy
Algerian, French, and South African Ex-Combatants

Lætitia Bucaille. Translated by Ethan Rundell

2019 | 376 pages | Cloth $99.95
Anthropology / Political Science
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Table of Contents


Chapter 1. South Africa: Sparing the Losers
Chapter 2. Algeria: The Victory over Colonialism
Chapter 3. France and the Algerian War: Forgetting or Endless Confrontation?

Chapter 4. South African Ex-Combatants: The Constraints of Reconciliation and the Law of the Market
Chapter 5. The Ex-Combatants of the FLN: An Eternally Privileged "Revolutionary Family"
Chapter 6. The Ex-Combatants of the OAS: From Exile to Overintegration

Chapter 7. Collective Discourse
Chapter 8. Perpetrating Violence
Chapter 9. The Intimate Ordeal of Torture

Chapter 10. Offering Forgiveness/Demanding Apology
Chapter 11. Extricating Oneself from Domination


Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]


The hostility one feels toward an enemy in arms and the political community he embodies only slowly abates. The political resolution of a conflict is not necessarily followed by the pacification of society and reconciliation among individuals. For the combatant who has engaged in or been subject to violence, the confrontation with the enemy is experienced in very direct fashion. Under what conditions can such a combatant be brought to forswear his enemy, understand the reasons that motivated him, see him as an equal, pursue cordial or friendly relations with him, and/or develop a new relationship with him on the basis of shared interests?

By comparing the accounts of veterans of the South African and Franco-Algerian conflicts, I hope to contribute to answering these questions. In South Africa, I consider the African National Congress (ANC) militants who opposed the apartheid regime between 1960 and 1994 as well as the members of the security services who defended it. In Algeria and France, I focus on the militants of the Front de Libération Nationale (National Liberation Front, FLN) and the Organisation Armée Secrète (Secret Army Organization, OAS). Where the former fought from 1954 to 1962 for the independence of Algeria, the latter opposed that project between 1961 and 1962.

The South African and Algerian conflicts were characterized by the clash of adversaries with antagonistic political projects. They were also colonial wars in which national liberation movements sought to destroy prevailing relations of institutional, political, economic, and social domination. Two issues are thus involved in relations between the former adversaries: in addition to (re)constructing a relationship based on trust, the former subjects and citizens of the colonial order must free themselves from the relationship of domination.

In this respect, the combatant's experience and perception of the enemy are inseparable from his position within the old political order. The majority of ANC members are thus black or nonwhite while the security forces who served under apartheid mainly consist of whites. In colonial Algeria, "Arabs" or "Muslims" joined the FLN while a minority of "Europeans" were active in the OAS. When Algeria became independent, the former became Algerians, and the latter, who had migrated across the Mediterranean, became known as "pieds-noirs."

In each of these postconflict configurations, I focus on the opposing actors. None of the "couples" studied here is perfect—both because the parties to these conflicts were not necessarily involved in direct confrontation and because their conflict was often complicated by the intervention of one or more third parties. It is also to be noted that none of the protagonists represented their entire community, even if they tended to claim otherwise. Nevertheless, in each case, my choice of ex-combatant categories has been guided by considerations of opposition, with each group of actors supporting a political project that excludes that of their opponents (the end of apartheid vs. the defense of apartheid, an independent Algeria vs. French Algeria). I have also chosen to focus on individuals whose involvement in the conflict was voluntary. In the case of South Africa, I thus consider only career soldiers, excluding conscripts from my field of study. For reasons of symmetry, it would have perhaps seemed logical to also take into consideration the French army soldiers who fought in Algeria. Their participation, however, did not necessarily reflect personal support for the conflict. In the French case, engagement on behalf of the cause of French Algeria was embodied by the militants of the OAS. What's more, like the South African security forces who "shared" their country with ANC activists, the majority of OAS troops in Algeria consisted of Europeans living in proximity to their FLN adversaries. In each case, then, studying these groups allows one to identify the twofold nature of their relationship to their adversaries, a relationship that was at once colonial and conflictual.

Three considerations affect the evolution of the combatants' perceptions. The first is the belief that the conflict's resolution was fair or at least constituted an acceptable compromise. This condition must be fulfilled if there is to be support for peace. Next, representations of the past are shaped by the place that ex-combatants occupy in their societies—whether they are honored or instead marginalized—and, more broadly, the significance assigned the war by those in power and society at large. Lastly, the possibility or impossibility of forming contacts with former enemies plays a decisive role in the evolution of reciprocal perceptions. Whereas the absence of contact between former belligerents favors the persistence of negative representations, encounters between them offer new experiences of the Other and allow attitudes to evolve.

Spurred on by Comparison

It may appear bold to compare the subjective experience of South African, Algerian, and French ex-combatants. I do not attempt to make comparison an end in itself but rather draw upon it as a tool for understanding the cases under investigation. The present undertaking thus seeks to compare protagonist attitudes and narratives regarding transversal questions, not to systematically measure the gap separating them.

By treating comparison in sociology as the equivalent of experimentation in the hard sciences, Émile Durkheim set forth the requirements inherent in the researcher's work: sociological analysis is built upon the comparison of observed portions of reality among themselves. Yet few international comparisons adopt the actor's own point of view. The reason for this may have less to do with reservations regarding the scientific validity of this approach than with the inherent costs of such an inquiry. The resulting analyses demonstrate the value of comparing diverse fields for the purpose of understanding phenomena that are at once near and distant, commonplace and particular.

The comparative approach facilitates and accentuates the decentering of the researcher vis-à-vis his or her object, which is all the more necessary given that the researcher is not immune to the emotions of the individuals he encounters. These are particularly evident among individuals who have experienced or employed violence, some of whom are still animated by exclusivist political beliefs. By exposing him- or herself to several fields, the sociologist is opportunely led to adopt a proper distance vis-à-vis the object of inquiry. Another virtue of comparison: one may be surprised by the discrepancy in meaning produced by ex-combatants from one situation to the next. This feeling of surprise spurs on one's inquiry and acts as a vector of comprehensive sociology.

Interpreting such divergences is a difficult task, since one may suppose that the actors' differing attitudes are fully explained by the historic, temporal, and political particularities of the contexts they inhabit. Yet the temporal gap between the configurations under investigation shows that, for ex-combatants, the passage of time does not necessarily result in a process of distanciation relative to their former enemy or the cause around which they rallied. Cultural explanation would also offer a straightforward interpretive scheme, but I have ruled it out on the grounds that it risks locking us into static and erroneous perceptions. One objective of the present work is to seek out divergences in order to shed light upon the meanings of each configuration as a political and social construction.

This effort of comparison does not concern the nature of the conflicts in question or the paths taken in exiting them, though I do of course attend to these matters in order to reconstruct my protagonists' trajectories. Rather, I seek to put the experience and discourse of ex-combatants into perspective: having become involved in the conflict, thereby exposing oneself to physical danger, how does one narrate that experience and assess the conflict's outcome? How does one regard one's former enemy? It matters little whether the cause one defended was "noble" or arouses our sympathy. The standpoint adopted here supposes that all engagement is equivalent to the degree that the individuals in question identified with values, acquired convictions, and subscribed to a political project which they spent a portion of their lives defending.

The present work pursues comparison at three levels. First, I put the discourses and attitudes of veterans relative to their own group into perspective, underscoring the various profiles that thereby emerge. Second, I compare enemy pairs (ANC vs. police officers-soldiers, FLN vs. OAS), revealing the symmetries between protagonists and the effect produced by their reciprocal representations. The implications of their involvement differ depending on whether the combatants entered an illegal clandestine movement or rather joined the ranks of an institutional state structure. Such discrepancies of status, however, do not rule out mimetic phenomena or participation in shared discursive structures. Third, the comparison seeks to be transnational, bringing a shared perspective to bear upon the members of national liberation movements and defenders of the colonial order, though without conflating them.

The actors of these conflicts were, moreover, inspired by one another, with skills transfer sometimes taking place between them. The experience of the Algerian struggle, often referred to as "the Mecca of revolutionaries," aroused the interest and admiration of Nelson Mandela. South Africa's apartheid regime studied and implemented the methods employed by the French army to put an end to "rebel" subversion in Algeria, including infiltration and torture. The source of inspiration was subsequently inverted, with the dismantling of domination and the shift to democracy in South Africa in the early 1990s coming to be recognized as a model of pacific, viable transition. In France and Algeria, some regretted the failure to build democracy on the southern shore of the Mediterranean as well as the end of cohabitation between Arab and European communities. The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) even led to calls for a comparable body to be created to come to terms with past violence between France and Algeria.

Violence and the Ex-Combatant

To define combatants—and, by extension, veterans—as a category, I have relied on three criteria: membership in a more or less formal structure, continuity of involvement, and participation in violent actions.

In liberation or resistance movements, the structures in question were generally of a clandestine nature. The ANC created a military wing. In 1961, the movement led by Albert Luthuli opted for a strategy of armed struggle, forming Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK)—literally, "spear of the nation"—which operated against South African soldiers from bases located in southern Africa. Some of its members were also sent to infiltrate the national territory to set up networks and carry out attacks. Created in 1954, the FLN immediately turned to violence as its main mode of action and formed the National Liberation Army (ALN). A portion of its troops were positioned in Morocco and Tunisia. In Algeria, FLN militants participated in the revolutionary war from within cities or joined up with the guerilla movement in the countryside (the so-called maquis). Created in Madrid in February 1961, the OAS for its part possessed a general staff and political organization. Operational structures—mainly, the "deltas" in Algiers and the "collines" in Oran—were created for urban combat.

Membership criteria for these three movements were sometimes loose. A combatant belonged to a group or network and participated in certain activities on the orders of his commander. Nevertheless, underground political movements are often characterized by local initiatives and occasional excesses on the part of activists.

For combatants who took part in institutional structures such as the army or police, voluntary enlistment constitutes the criterion of their membership in the organization. For South African soldiers, particular attention has been given to elite groups that fought the enemy in the field. In what concerns the police, I met with members of the Crime Investigation Unit—better known as the Security Branch—which was responsible for tracking down, imprisoning, and interrogating suspected terrorists as well as maintaining an intelligence network.

The second criterion is therefore continuity and intensity of engagement: participation in the struggle is a long-term matter and excludes one-off, isolated actions against the enemy, however effective they may be. For members of the security services, this criterion requires that they be career soldiers or police officers. For unconventional combatants, it also implies that their participation in the conflict constitutes the center around which their lives were organized. In the postconflict period, the combatant also generally continues to identify with the movement with which he or she fought.

Finally, combat entails recourse to armed force or another form of violence against the enemy. This third criterion covers a broad array of actions. Should the person who carries out an act of sabotage, the person who plants bombs, and the person who aids and abets them all be considered "combatants"? The answer must be sought primarily in connection with the second criterion: continuity of action. It must then be counterbalanced with the criterion of risk-taking. In clandestine movements, low-violence activity exposes those who engage in it to arrest, mistreatment, and even death. It thus qualifies them as militants or combatants. Is it not problematical, then, to compare them to security service members, who possess vastly superior technological and organizational resources? The moral and political meaning of their acts is of course distinct, but I consider the police and soldiers as fighting on behalf of a cause, that of apartheid. They thus also count as "combatants."

From this notion of the combatant, one may deduce that of the ex-combatant. For reasons of conviction, pragmatism, a duty to obey or reference to group loyalty, the ex-combatant agrees to observe the peace negotiated with the enemy by his organization and gives up the struggle to which he has for several years devoted himself. He retains or cultivates a social (and sometimes political) identity linked to his wartime activity. Frequently, he participates in a (formal or informal) veterans network with his peers. The definition of the combatant developed here—in particular, the attention it gives to identification with the organization—takes the protagonists' subjectivity into account.

The manner in which the fight is pursued during a conflict depends upon the resources available to the actors. But it also reflects a political community's values, expectations, and relationship to the outside world. The members of a community engaged in struggle appeal to arguments of legitimacy and effectiveness to justify their use of violence. The passage of time affects the manner in which violent action is regarded. The 1960s were more favorable to revolutionary theories and a liberative vision of violence of the type set forth by Frantz Fanon. Thirty years later, the aura surrounding armed struggle and third-world causes had considerably diminished.

The processes by which societies are pacified may also result in the transformation of the manner in which violence is regarded. The suffering inflicted upon the other party may gradually come to seem unacceptable. Societies then distance themselves from violent repertories of action, sometimes condemning them. Perceptions change as political configurations are transformed. In peacetime, public opinion and ex-combatants are less inclined to develop arguments that justify attacks against civilians.

Colonial System, Conflict, and the Enemy

There is a long-standing distinction between oppressive and liberating violence: philosophers and politicians legitimated the American and the French Revolutions, denounced their excesses, and examined the issue of proportionality. I do not, however, seek to contribute to this discussion. Nor is my objective to construct a scale of violence or single out those cases in which it is legitimate. Rather, it is to identify a series of actions that seek to harm one's adversary by inflicting physical or material losses upon him in a framework of conflict, and study the discourse produced regarding these actions. There is much variation in the intensity of violence, the nature of the target, and the effect produced on it. The means that are employed are characteristic of the actors' position during the conflict. "Rebels" or unconventional forces employ sabotage against material goods, carry out targeted or indiscriminate attacks against enemy armed forces and civilians, or eliminate those they believe to be collaborators and traitors. Soldiers and police use legal violence, arresting and imprisoning the combatants they pursue. The latter are tried, sentenced to death, or sent to prison. The authorities present violence as a means to ensure respect for the law and rein in subversion. With fewer resources than their enemy, "rebels" sometimes seek to compensate for strategic inferiority with spectacular actions, which can include theatrical displays of cruelty. By contrast, the security services conceal their own use of illegal violence, sheltering behind a screen of legality, which supplies the basis for their legitimate use of force. Although dictatorships and authoritarian regimes are more inclined to depart from the rule of law, democracies sometimes dispense with constitutional safeguards and resort to illegal methods, including the mistreatment and torture of prisoners, extrajudicial killings, and setting what are sometimes mortal traps for armed militants.

The conflict in which South African, Algerian, and French combatants participated arose in a colonial context. Their use of violence was thus part of a historic longue durée. In order to examine the accounts of the various parties to these conflicts, one must take the position of all of them into account and, in particular, the fact that their relations were structured by an older system of domination. The use of torture was thus encouraged by the unequal relations that characterized the colonial system: the government used the security services to reaffirm state power over the rebels; the fear of the Other and colonial racism led to the spread of torture as a practice. Among other reasons, brutality was employed by turns to humiliate and to cleanse oneself of humiliation. During the Algerian War of Independence, it sometimes happened that one killed one's neighbor or "childhood friend." When this occurred, the protagonists condemned their adversary's cruelty and duplicity. But such murders, far from being gratuitous, brutally interrupted the fiction of friendly relations and exposed the racism of colonial Algeria.

In this book, I hold that the figure of the enemy is embodied by the ex-combatants' armed political adversary. This intimate relationship is characterized by the protagonists' attempt either to reduce to powerlessness those against whom they fought or to convince them to change strategy and attitude. The adversary was the object of combat, the target of violence; what distinguished him was his recourse to brutality. The experience of war did not exhaust this relationship between South African, Algerian, and French ex-combatants, all of whom were themselves part of colonial society. This configuration blurs the frontiers between the various combatant groups involved in the conflict and the community they represented. The adversary facing one may thus have formerly been a neighbor, a colleague, or an acquaintance. To the degree that it appears as a shifting social and political construct elaborated by protagonists inserted into a postconflictual, postcolonial configuration, I make no attempt to define a priori the notion of the enemy.

Narratives, Imaginaries, and Sources

This work is principally based on interviews carried out with South African, Algerian, and French ex-combatants. On four occasions between 2003 and 2006, I traveled to South Africa for a series of one- and two-month research trips. Based in Johannesburg, I patiently established contacts in order to meet former ANC activists, soldiers, and members of the Security Branch who had served under apartheid.

It was through intermediaries—in particular, NGO members—that I was first able to set up interviews with poor ANC militants in the townships (mainly Soweto). Some of these ex-combatants then introduced me to their comrades. Interpersonal networks also came into play in the case of black ex-MK who had benefited from social promotion, though access to this new bourgeoisie was sometimes difficult to come by. Altogether, I carried out around forty interviews with ANC members, most of whom had belonged to its armed wing.

I also conducted interviews with soldiers who served under apartheid, some of whom left the institution at the time of the political transition while others joined the new South African army. The task was a little more difficult in the case of Security Branch members, in part because they had nearly all resigned from the institution and are now scattered among various professions, and in part because their reputation had been damaged by the accusations leveled against them by the TRC. Whether genuinely guilty of the human rights violations committed by the regime or convenient scapegoats, police officers were stigmatized as a group. The greatest difficulty resided in tracking down contacts. After meeting with one of them, I was introduced to his former colleagues. As a result, I was ultimately able to meet around twenty members of the Security Branch and a similar number of soldiers who had served under apartheid. Most of these encounters took place in Johannesburg and Pretoria, with a few taking place in Cape Town or its environs.

In the case of FLN members, I traveled to Algeria in 2005, 2006, and 2009. The main limit of my survey sample was geographic, with all interviews conducted in Algiers or the surrounding region. Most of those with whom I met (though not all) were natives of the capital. Given their urban origins, they thus had contacts with the European population at the time of French Algeria and are in this respect not representative of the population taken as a whole. What's more, their proximity to the government overexposes some Algiers mujahideen and mujahidat and contributes to shaping their remarks. The content of my interviews would doubtless have differed had they been conducted in a rural setting or in midsize cities.

Finally, nearly all of my interviews with OAS members took place in 2004 and 2005 between Cannes and Sète in southeastern France. Once initial contact had been made, I had little difficulty in convincing fifteen OAS members to speak to me about their experiences. I feared that many would not agree to meet with me, but in fact they were often willing to tell me about their careers. I no doubt began my OAS fieldwork at a propitious moment: the organizations affiliated with the group had recently launched what was to prove a rather successful campaign to promote their version of history. The timing thus helped my investigation. Though I conducted fewer interviews than with other organizations, the movement itself consisted of only a few hundred members and was active for fewer than eighteen months in Algeria.

In each group, I favored individuals who had fought on national territory rather than abroad; I also gave preference to militants or security service members who had "military" rather than political experience as well as a firsthand experience of violence. Unless otherwise requested, I have changed my interlocutors' first names in order to preserve their anonymity. Nevertheless, those who are well known as a result of the offices they hold or their publications appear under their real name.

The accounts I gathered reveal specific modes of narration. They reflect the ex-combatants' subjectivity and represent a way for ex-combatants to affirm themselves in society or justify their failure. They allow the speaker to appropriate or challenge the dominant values of the postconflict context or the official version of the war. They also reveal a trajectory that runs from engagement to disengagement (or, sometimes, the transformation of engagement) and is linked to the evolving perception of the (ex)enemy. In each case, the account displays both moral and emotional dimensions. Their remarks reveal actors who are concerned to defend their interests and survive as well as their need for self-esteem. They are, in this respect, strategic. Through his account, the individual speaker seeks to appear "a decent or even worthy person in his own eyes and those of others." The interview is an "exchange [in which] the researcher represents a generalized other." Self-heroization and victimization are the specific tropes by which the speaker seeks to achieve self-esteem. These two tropes coexist with others, including the "banalization of the self," which consists in demonstrating one's everyday (in)humanity and common sense.

French, Algerian, and South African ex-combatants have more or less mastered the techniques of this interaction. They may already have been interviewed by journalists or other researchers regarding the part they played. Some are activists and seasoned speakers, and their discourse is often the product of a previously constructed interpretation. It remains a reconstruction by means of which the speaker experiences his identity. These performances, however, are not perfect; they vary from one person to the next, and the interviews offer glimpses of the speakers' contradictions and weaknesses. Moreover, repetition does not immunize against emotion or suffering when discussing painful and humiliating memories. For those telling their story for the first time, the interview can be liberating.

The interviewee's perception of the interviewer—who, he supposes, receives his account with a mixture of reservation, surprise, and disbelief—also plays a role in determining the techniques of persuasion and justification he chooses to employ in his self-presentation. Among ANC militants and security service members who defended apartheid in South Africa, the manner in which I was perceived was primarily determined by the color of my skin. This entailed feelings of proximity or distance toward me, feelings sometimes counterbalanced by calculations regarding my political leanings. In the case of mujahideen in Algeria, my French nationality was the most salient fact. Some of them seemed to view my nationality as a guarantee of empathy, while others underscored our difference. Above all, it was French-origin members of the FLN who most sought to distance themselves from me. It seems that our shared "ethnicity" required that lines be drawn between us. For OAS veterans, I belonged to a generation that had probably been indoctrinated regarding the Algerian War by the school system. The fact that I had been born after the war meant that I did not think of Algeria as a cluster of French départements.

My interlocutors' attempts to persuade me were thus crafted in keeping with the opinions they had formed of me. Some of the interviews lasted many hours. The fact that many of my interlocutors were retired or unemployed doubtless played some role in determining their availability. I began by asking my interlocutors to recount their personal trajectories, including a few questions regarding their wartime activities. I then asked them about their view of the conflict and its resolution and attempted to gather material regarding their various encounters with the enemy. The question of violence was raised only if my subjects themselves included it in their war narrative. I sometimes supplemented my interviews by meeting multiple times with a given ex-combatant. This allowed the relationship between researcher and interviewee to be extended and deepened, and the individuals with whom I met on two or more occasions supplied extremely rich material.

Their accounts allow one to reconstitute the facts less than to collect social representations and retrace political and symbolic imaginaries as individual and collective constructions. By way of their narratives, the ex-combatants assign meaning to the conflict and the actions in which they participated, and reinvent the meaning of the war and the violence with which it was associated. The difficulty resides in distinguishing between the role played, respectively, by the imaginary and the rational. Cornélius Castoriadis held that the real is rendered comprehensible by the imaginary. Indeed, he went so far as to claim that "[the] imaginary does not merely hold the function of the rational, it is already a form of the latter and contains it in an initial and infinitely fertile indistinction." For my part, I hold that the actor's strategic intention and the production of his imaginary mutually feed one another and that it is always difficult to distinguish between what belongs to one register or the other, a task that I do not abandon for all that. The aim here is to decode a narrative structure that allows for self-understanding via a narrative-based interpretation that mixes lived history with fictive history, biographical style with novelistic style. The narrative identity that is thereby constructed seeks to procure a feeling of continuity and coherence with one's self. And, like any imaginary, it is not only developed at the scale of the individual but also partakes of collective representations.

The questions of conflict and the enemy are particularly propitious grounds for the operations of the imaginary. If the Other is essential to defining the self, this is particularly true of the ex-combatant, for whom the adversary fills this role. One's connection to the enemy resides in this exchange of violence, whether unilateral or reciprocal.

Individual narratives also constitute a way to experience one's relationship to the group. They simultaneously allow one to feel membership in a symbolic community and distinguish oneself from it. Each of my interviews simultaneously reveals this element of conformity and need to distinguish oneself. At times, the relationship established between interviewer and interviewee over the course of the exercise allowed the latter to stray from conventional discourse—that is, the official or public stance of the interviewee's peer group—and give free rein to his own subjectivity. By departing from the usual ways of speaking about their symbolic community, the ex-combatants reveal the degree to which they have moved away from it. In a way, each of their narratives may contribute to clarifying the place they occupy within their respective groups and political communities.


In gathering the narratives of ex-combatants, my aim was to understand their intimate experience of the enemy over the course of the war. From their remarks, I sought to extract a moral grammar embedded in individual subjectivity. While based on political beliefs, this grammar also draws upon ex-combatants' emotions—their feelings of loss, pride, and guilt. Moreover, it falls within a political configuration that delineates the frontiers of the political community and designates the outlines of the adversary.

My discussion is divided into four parts. I begin by putting the postconflictual order that characterizes South Africa, France, and Algeria into perspective (Part I). In what ways does past conflict shape or change the political order? In South Africa, the country's new rulers, the ANC, sought to reforge the nation on the basis of reconciliation and social transformation by including their former adversary in the new political pact. In Algeria, the FLN based its claims of historical and political legitimacy upon the fact of victory, raising the specter of the colonial enemy to ensure its continued rule. France, for its part, sought to forget the Algerian War in order to obscure the colonial dimensions of the Republic.

I then turn to study the manner in which each country extended symbolic and material rewards to its ex-combatants (Part II). In South Africa, little gratitude was shown ANC militants, and the financial compensation accorded former MK members for their participation in combat was limited. Access to wealth is determined by the laws of the market. Having suffered political defeat at the hands of the ANC, the security services that served under apartheid were prompted to transform themselves but retained the resources necessary to maintain their standard of living. In Algeria, the mujahideen were elevated to the status of a social group to which the nation was beholden. In France, OAS activists were tried and then amnestied; forty years after the end of the conflict, some of their claims are (once again) receiving a favorable hearing and their demands have increasingly been satisfied.

In the Part III, I concentrate on the narratives produced by ex-combatants. The narrative that emerges from each of the groups casts light on their relationship with the conflict and the violence that drove it. They appropriate or distinguish themselves from a state-sanctioned political reading of both past and present. Individual speech resonates with collective narrative, and studying it allows one to refine the comparison.

Finally, I once again address the question of the enemy and consider the ways in which ex-combatants may rid themselves of it (Part IV). To what degree is it possible to come to terms with the past? In the light of the specific experiences of South African, Algerian, and French ex-combatants, I explore the figures of forgiveness and recognition.

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