This section offers short excerpts from our investigation into the Émile-Dubois Cité (a.k.a "les 800" ) in Aubervilliers. These "foci" will supplement the exhibition's guided tours.
#1 Focus on...
Achour Moualed, one of the first city council members from a muslim Algerian-French background (Français musulman d'Algérie), communist activist
When we began our research on the residents of Émile-Dubois Cité (housing estate), one of the first figures that we heard spoken of was Achour Moualed. What set him apart? Having been elected a city councillor of Aubervilliers in 1953, he was thus one of the first “French Muslims of Algeria” - the term used at the time – to hold such a position. In many respects, he embodies the elite working class Algerian of this period and his particular history, with its ties to the Communist Party, may appear at first to eclipse that of the rest of the Algerian population in Aubervilliers in the 1950s and 1960s. And yet his life gives us an important insight into the Algerian history of this community.
Achour Moualed, 1983 (© Jeannine Moualed)
Achour Moualed was born on 8 February 1925 at Fort-National (today Larbaâ Nath Irathen), Kabylia, at a time when Algeria was still part of the French colonial Empire. He came to Aubervilliers around 1950, following the path of many other Algerians of that time who came to France in search of work and higher salaries. In 1947, mainly as a result of their participation in WWII, Algerians became citizens of the French Empire and were thus free to travel within France and settle where they wish. This resulted in an ambiguous status for Algerians. They had a full voice in elections, and benefited from favourable policies for business and professional training, etc. yet in practice French authorities and a significant portion of French society regarded them as “undesirable” immigrants, based on cultural and racist prejudices, and they were subject to a regime of surveillance, by both the police and French civil service, which sought to limit the development of the independence movement. Though they had French nationality and later French citizenship, French administration frequently referred to them as “North African”, or “French Muslims of Algeria”, in order to differentiate them from the rest of the population.
More than 3000 Algerians lived in Aubervilliers in 1955, according to a police census, which made it one of the principal centres of arrival in France, alongside Saint-Denis, Gennevilliers or Nanterre. We lack a great deal of information to fully understand the context in which Achour Moualed grew up in Algeria, but at a time when the majority of Algerian workers in France began to support nationalist movements, he aligned himself with the French Communist Party.
Official List of Candidates for the Communist Party at the Local Elections of 1953 (© Archives of Aubervilliers, 1K404)
Electoral List of the French Community Party, 1953
(© Archives of Aubervilliers, 1K404)
Starting in 1953, his name can be found on the list of inhabitants at the Émile-Dubois Cité. Dubois was himself a militant communist who played a major role in Aubervilliers in the interwar period, before being deported to Buchenwald during the Second World War, and then finally being elected mayor. During the 1953 elections, Achour Moualed lived at 5 rue de la Justice, in the Petite Espagne area of Plaine-Saint-Denis, where he often visited the family of François Asensi, another future resident of Émile-Dubois Cité and a future member of parliament. On the electoral roll, he is presented as a basket marker (his previous job in Algeria) and an “an activist in our party, representing Algerian workers shamefully exploited who, at our side, lead the battle for the independence of our two peoples”. During his time in office, he notably obtained the creation of a small space for children in the Landy district. But in 1956, with the emergence of the Algerian independence movement in France (FLN, Front de liberation nationale), he quit the French Communist Party.
He met and married Jeannine Lamandé, a young communist activist. Together, in 1958, they moved to Émile Dubois Cité. Following vocational training at the Suzanne Masson Centre, he became a cable operator and worked at Jeumont-Schneider at Plaine Saint-Denis. After independence, like many activists, Achour returned to live in Algeria in 1964, settling close to Oran, with his wife and children. He worked in a branch of SONATRACH, the petroleum society of Algeria, and then became secretary general of the union of Algerian workers in the petrochemical sector. Jeannine and their children returned to France in 1981 and lived once again in Émile-Dubois, where Achour would regularly visit them, until his death in December 1995.
Interior of the Jeannine Moualed’s apartment, at Émile-Dubois Cité, Aubervilliers, in the 1980s (© Patrice Lutier)
Excerpt from the Monthly Aubermensuel, February 1996 (© Archives of Aubervilliers)