Berbers, Blacks, Jews: The Colonial Legacies and Racial Politics of the Amazigh Revival

Mellon Minorities in the Middle East & North Africa Series

Berbers, Blacks, Jews: The Colonial Legacies and Racial Politics of the Amazigh Revival

A lecture with Paul Silverstein (Reed College)

Thursday, April 29, 2021
2:00 PM (Pacific Time)

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In this lecture I explore the racial politics underlying the identity category of Berber/Amazigh as it develops in colonial North Africa and comes to be reinvigorated in the postcolonial Maghreb and beyond. With a particular focus on the southeastern oases of Morocco, I sketch the colonial logics which divided Berber (or Imazighen) "autochthons," understood as superficially Muslim, from local Jewish and black Haratin/Iqablin "allochthons" and the consequences of such a divide for local social relations and their subsequent transformations. How does contemporary Amazigh activists’ discursive embrace of secularism and philo-Semitism contribute to local landscapes of racial inclusion and exclusion?

Paul A. Silverstein is Professor of Anthropology at Reed College. He is author of Algeria in France (Indiana, 2004) and Postcolonial France (Pluto, 2018), and editor of several volumes including Bourdieu in Algeria (Nebraska, 2009, with Jane Goodman). His current research focuses on Amazigh identity politics, land rights, and migrant labor in southeastern Morocco and the northern European coal mining diaspora. He chairs the board of directors of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP).


Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies