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

Publié le 8 mai 2023 Mis à jour le 16 juin 2023

Lecturer: Paul A. Silverstein

Abstract : In this paper 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 where I have done extended field and archival research, 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 ? How have trans-Mediterranean and trans-Atlantic ideologies of blackness, whiteness, and anti-Semitism infused Amazigh claims to indigeneity and impacted possibilities for solidarity with Sahrawi and Sahelian migratory aspirations and decolonial projects ? What has been the influence of the Amazigh diaspora in Europe and North America on these regional racial (re-)imaginations ? This paper, a chapter in a larger historical ethnography of southeastern Morocco, proposes some initial answers

Bio : Paul A. Silverstein is professor of anthropology at Reed College (Portland, USA). He is author of Algeria in France : Transpolitics, Race, Nation (Indiana, 2004) and Postcolonial France : Race, Islam, and the Future of the Republic (Pluto, 2018), among other publications. His ethnographic and archival work addresses issues of (im)migration, race, and identity movements in both Europe and North Africa, and he is completing an ethnohistorical study of Amazigh cultural politics in southeastern Morocco. In 2015-16 he was a Fulbright visiting professor in the Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Center at the University of Leuven. He chairs the board of directors of the Middle East Research and Information Project and is a co-editor of the Public Cultures in the Middle East and North Africa book series with Indiana University Press.

ULB, Solbosch campus, Henri Janne room (S building, 15e)

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Le 6 juin 2023