‘Schools and National Identities in French-speaking Africa’ & essential readings on Algerian Hirak

  • Muriam Haleh Davis and Thomas Serres have collated a set of trilingual “essential readings” about the Algerian Hirak, including academic articles, opinion pieces and key press articles. They describe this resource as a ‘first attempt to gather secondary sources discussing the revolutionary mobilization that started in Algeria in February 2019’, and point to the relevance of understanding the movement not just for North African politics but for understanding resistance and hegemony. https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/42148
  • Schools and National Identities in French-speaking Africa, edited by Linda Gardelle (ENSTA Bretagne, France) and our colleague at Portsmouth Camille Jacob, brings together research about ten different African countries to better understand the mechanisms of production and negotiation of national identities in different settings. At its heart is the need to critically investigate the concept of “the nation” as a political project, how discourses and feelings of belonging are constructed at school, and what it means for schools to be simultaneously places of learning, tools of socialisation and political battlegrounds. The first chapter, which provides an overview of the themes covered in the book, is freely available here: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/schools-national-identities-french-speaking-africa-linda-gardelle-camille-jacob/e/10.4324/9780429288944?refId=f450fab0-d7a5-483f-a617-271b6b98b254
  • The US government’s move to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara has renewed debates over the future of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and the decade-long tensions in the region. Al Jazeera reported on the move as a reward for Morocco’s normalisation of ties with Israel and the wider implications for existing tensions with Algeria and Mauritania. John Bolton and Intissar Fakir pondered what this might mean for security in the region and for the US. In these accounts, the Sahrawi themselves are largely absent. For more on Western Sahara and the Sahrawi, see for instance Wilson’s Democratising elections without parties: reflections on the case of the SADR, and Boulay & Freire’s Culture et Politique dans l’Ouest Saharien.

France faces growing problems in the Sahel

Tony Chafer is Professor of French and African Studies at the University of Portsmouth





In recent months France has faced growing hostility to its military presence in the western Sahel. There have been demonstrations, most recently in Bamako on 10 January, when the French flag was burned in the city’s main square and demonstrators called for the French forces and all foreign forces on Malian soil to leave. In response, President Macron called the presidents of the G5 Sahel countries (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad) to a meeting in Pau this Monday 13 January, at which he hoped they would disavow such anti-French demonstrations. He even hinted that, if they did not, he could withdraw the 4,500 soldiers of France’s Operation Barkhane. No one expected him to follow through on this threat.

In the event, Macron and the presidents of the G5 Sahel countries recommitted themselves to the counter-terrorism efforts in the western Sahel and agreed to form a military coalition under joint command to focus their counter-insurgency efforts. However, President Macron knows that France is losing the battle against violent extremism in the region and at the NATO summit in November last year appealed to other countries to step up and support French efforts. This appeal has fallen on deaf ears. The US is contemplating reducing its military presence and EU partners do not necessarily share France’s analysis that insecurity in the Sahel represents a threat to European security. The impasse led one French specialist on the Sahel, Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos, to suggest recently that the only way to unblock the situation was for France to announce a timetable for withdrawal of French troops.