Born in Tunisia under French protectorate, from a Tunisian Jewish mother, Marguerite Sarfati, and a Tunisian-Italian Jewish father, François Memmi, he speaks French and Tunisian-Judeo-Arabic. He claims to be of Berber ancestry. He was educated in French primary schools, and continued on to the Carnot high school in Tunis, the University of Algiers where he studied philosophy, and finally the Sorbonne in Paris. Albert Memmi found himself at the crossroads of three cultures, and based his work on the difficulty of finding a balance between the East and the West.
His best-known nonfiction work is "The Colonizer and the Colonized", about the interdependent relationship of the two groups. It was published in 1957, a time when many national liberation movements were active. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote the preface. The work is often read in conjunction with Frantz Fanon's "Les damnés de la Terre" ("The Wretched of the Earth") and "Peau noire, masques blancs" ("Black Skin, White Masks") and Aimé Césaire's "Discourse on Colonialism." In October 2006, Memmi's follow-up to this work, titled "Decolonization and the Decolonized," was published. In this book, Memmi suggests that in the wake of global decolonization, the suffering of former colonies cannot be attributed to the former colonizers, but to the corrupt leaders and governments that control these states.
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