Colonialism denied Algeria its own history; nationalism reinvented it. James McDougall charts the creation of that history through colonialism to independence, exploring the struggle to define Algeria's past and determine the meaning of its nationhood. Through local histories, he analyses the relationship between history, Islamic culture and nationalism in Algeria. He confronts prevailing notions that nationalism emancipated Algerian history, and that Algeria's past has somehow determined its present, violence breeding violence, tragedy repeating itself. Instead, he argues, nationalism was a new kind of domination, in which multiple memories and possible futures were effaced. But the histories hidden by nationalism remain below the surface, and can be recovered to create alternative visions for the future. This is an exceptional and engaging book, rich in analysis and documentation. It will be read by colonial historians and social theorists as well as by scholars of the Middle East and North Africa.