Log in to access the full article.
Abstract This article examines rural settlement in Constantine, a departement in French Algeria, at the beginning of the 1900s. By taking into account the timing of colonial settlement for almost 100 municipalities, it shows how the changing geographical conditions and the relative quantities of land and labour shaped the colonial land policy and settler modes of production. As fertile land grew scarcer on the settlement ‘frontier’, the ability of settlers to participate in the export market was increasingly dependent on the capacity to make use of modern agricultural techniques that required larger fields and intensive labour. Thus, the outcome of rural settlement was determined by the relative abundance of indigenous labour and the adaptation of the land policy to Algeria’s agricultural needs. The results demonstrate that–even within a country itself and during the settlement process–the colonial land policy and settler modes of production change significantly, depending on the region being occupied.