Tag Archives | Identity

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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La République des signes: Myths of Frenchness since Le Petit Diouf

Reflecting on Roland Barthes’ Le Petit Diouf, Pr Michael Kelly explores the relationship between nationhood and myth-making in contemporary France. The Petit Diouf is the figure pictured on the front page of a 1955 issue of the French magazine Paris Match. It provides an example of the way daily myths operate in the making of French national identity and eventually reinforce the power of the state. Michael Kelly is a Professor of French in Modern Languages at the University of Southampton. He is a specialist in modern French culture and society, especially the history of ideas and intellectuals, and on public policy in the area of languages and language education, in the UK and in Europe more broadly This post is partly based on the Peter Morris Memorial Lecture that Michael Kelly delivered at the ASMCF Annual Conference last September.   Every country needs a myth of its nationhood. France has more of them than most countries, and the prevalent myths of Frenchness are contested. Barthes put his finger on it in Mythologies, where he showed that almost any story or image can be a myth. He describes sitting in the hairdresser’s and looking at a cover of Paris-Match, showing […]

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