Le Miroir, published in Paris in 1833 by Hamdan ben Othman Khodja (c.1773–1842), was the first Algerian contribution to French public deliberation about France's emerging empire in North Africa. A work of a self-consciously liberal cosmopolitan, and modernizing, perspective, the Miroir was almost alone in French debates in making a principled argument for a complete French withdrawal from Algeria—what Khodja called a “liberal emancipation” of the country. The Miroir argued for an independent Algeria that might take its place in a nineteenth-century Europe of emerging nations, and that might engage with European states as a diplomatic equal. The work illustrates the constraints on those who sought to preserve some independence, discursive as well as political, in the face of European expansion, as well as the critical possibilities of liberal discourse at a moment when it was being marshaled in France and Britain in the service of empire.
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