Since 1830 when France invaded Algeria, the country has been intimately involved in North Africa and eventually came to control Tunisia and Morocco as well. At first, this was a very one sided relationship in which France was the main profiteer of the colonial relationship. With this in mind, as the first and second world wars took place, France found itself in dire need of more men to fight for the motherland. In order to fill this need, they naturally went to their colonies and protectorates who answered the call. Since this helped France, the country was perfectly happy to have an influx of Arab people coming to the motherland to defend her. Furthermore, after the second war was over and France no longer needed a huge quantity of soldiers, she found herself in dire need of workers to fill the gaps left in France’s workforce after the death of millions of their citizens in both WW1 and WW2. Thus, she arranged for men from the colonies and protectorates in the Maghreb to come to France and be able to work.
Initially, the politicians in France supported this idea wholeheartedly and planned for the immigrants to work a few years in France and then return home. However, they quickly learned that this was not the case.
The immigrants were enticed by the dramatic increase in salary and quality of living they found in France. Therefore, many of them decided that they did not want to return to their countries of origin. Instead, they worked to try to bring their families to France and live there permanently as residents and, in some cases, citizens of France. Sadly, many of these families who were first generation immigrants were poorly educated and often worked menial jobs. However, their children, or the second generation immigrants (also known as the Beurs) had the opportunity to attend French schools and become well educated members of society. Through this educated second generation is where we see the birth of Beur literature that speaks out about the problems and difficulties that they face on a daily basis.