Outtake: The Battle of Algiers, trauma theory and radical hope

The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria, 1966): Between ‘Acting-out’ and ‘Working- through’?

This short piece is an outtake from my book on The Battle of Algiers. Many commentators take a rather po-faced attitude to the film and miss its carnivalesque or playful aspects. One manifestation of this solemn or disapproving tone is found in what is still a very fine article on the film by Emily Tomlinson, in which she discusses the film in terms of trauma theory and ‘working-through’. My purpose in this material was to argue against Tomlinson’s take, and to insist on the political utility of taking the film seriously…as playful. The material became a digression that took me too far from the core theme of the book chapter, and so I have made it into a free-standing piece to be made available here and on academia.edu.