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North Africa: a complex cultural miscellany (Part I). By Kamal Salhi.

In the first of two instalments, Dr Kamal Salhi, from the University of Leeds and editor of the International Journal of Francophone Studies, reflects on problems relating to culture in North Africa. Part II to follow next Friday. North Africa: a complex cultural miscellany (Part I)  Since the 1990s, marking Algeria’s violent struggle to establish a liberal democracy, North Africa has been torn between the forces of anarchy in the shape of decentralized violence, and the forces of tyranny in the shape of orchestrated centralized repression. The continued surge of political Islam posed a threat to a number of the states in the region, as in Morocco, Mauritania and Mali, while others were subdued as in the case of Tunisia’s repressive policies under Ben Ali’s Regime. What has happened across the region is that cultural diversity and the valuing of this diversity, has become the unintentional by-product of the collapse of the grand vision of the homogeneous ‘nation-region’. The problem of belonging, of collective identity, emerges as the central challenge for modern North African society at the start of the twenty-first century. This is an upshot of colonization, coupled with the global conditions that have underpinned the rise of communitarianism and […]

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