We Are Imazighen:
The Development of Algerian Berber Identity in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture

Fazia Aïtel

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"A unique account of the rise of the Berber cultural identity, in particular of the Kabyles of Algeria, in modern times. Luminaries such as Amrouche, Feraoun, Matoub, and Farès are impressively brought back to life."--Abdourahman A. Waberi, author of Passage of Tears

"An insightful and important addition to the field of postcolonial French studies, tracing the development of Berber consciousness in the 1930s to the events of the 'Arab Spring.'"--Patricia Geesey, University of North Florida

"A sensitive account of the paradoxical effects of colonialism and its aftermath on the formerly colonized. It is a must-read for anthropologists, literary scholars, and historians of the period."--Vincent Crapanzano, author of The Harkis

"An intimate and forceful inquiry into the Berber cultural movement and the conditions of postcoloniality more generally. Incorporating literature and music, history and politics, We Are Imazighen brings the cultural life of the Kabyle people to an English-speaking audience with grace and passion."--David Crawford, author of Moroccan Households in the World Economy

"Provides a framework for analyzing literary and oral material rooted in Berber culture and expressing an alternative way of conceptualizing identity."--Mildred Mortimer, author of Writing from the Hearth


To the world they are known as Berbers, but they prefer to call themselves Imazighen, or "free people." The claim to this unique cultural identity has been felt most acutely in Algeria in the Kabylia region, where an Amazigh consciousness gradually emerged after WWII.

By tracing the cultural production of the Kabyle people--their songs, oral traditions, and literature--from the early 1930s through the end of the twentieth century, Fazia Aïtel shows how they have defined their own culture over time. Ultimately, she argues that the Amazigh literary tradition is founded on dual priorities: the desire to foster a genuine dialogue while retaining a unique culture.

Fazia Aïtel, associate professor of French and Francophone studies at Claremont McKenna College, is a coeditor of The Veil in All Its States.
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Includes a diverse interdisciplinary range of sources in its bibliography and provides a good introduction to the work of key Berber cultural figures . . . A welcome addition to the body of published literature of Algerian Berbers in English.-- Anthropos

Through a deep analyses of the ‘educated’ and ‘popular’ culture and literature produced in Algeria in the last decades, the author traces the fascinating history of a somewhat unknown people and its language and traditions . . . We are Imazighen helps us to understand the future of Algeria and North Africa because it explains the past and the present clearly.-- Ethnic and Racial Studies

A well-researched and skillfully written academic study on the culture and identity of the Kabyle people. A welcome addition to the growing corpus of academic works on this subject area.-- Banipal

Anyone who seeks to understand the history and culture of modern Algeria, and North Africa more generally, will find Aïtel’s fine study of much value.-- Middle East Quarterly

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