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Muriam Haleh Davis

Maghreb Page Co-Editor

A Moveable Feast? Reflections on the French Coverage of the Paris Attacks

[Image of the Eiffel Tower illuminated with the Tricolor following the Paris attacks. Image by Passion Leica/Flickr]

Writing on the relationship between acts of terror and the mystification of liberalism in 1947, Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote that, “cunning, violence, propaganda, and realpolitik” appeared “in the guise of liberal principles” and were “the substance of foreign or colonial politics, and even of domestic politics.” [1] He was not writing about religious fanatics, but he was rather concerned with another specter that once faced Europe: Communism. Unlike the Cold War, if France ...

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‘A Distinctly French Universalism’: Translating Laïcité after Charlie

[The Grande Mosquée de Paris. Photo by Arthur Asseraf.]

Mayanthi L. Fernando, The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. Naomi Davidson. Only Muslim: Embodying Islam in Twentieth-Century France. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012. Joan Wallach Scott. The Politics of the Veil. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. It was impossible to avoid the discussion, despite my repeated protests. In Lyon, as in the rest of France, there was nothing else to ...

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New Texts Out Now: Muriam Haleh Davis, The Afterlives of the Algerian Revolution

[Cover of

Muriam Haleh Davis, editor, The Afterlives of the Algerian Revolution. Special Issue of JadMag (June 2014). Jadaliyya (J): What made you create this pedagogical publication? Muriam Haleh Davis (MHD): In November 2013, Samuel Everett and Malika Rahal had organized a panel for the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) annual conference in New Orleans. First, all of the papers were given by a group of colleagues who I had met in Algiers during an ...

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'Justifications of Power': Neoliberalism and the Role of Empire

[Anti-WEF grafitti in Lausanne, Switzerland, after the 2004 WEF in Evian (France). The writting reads:

[This article is the second in a three-part Jadaliyya series that looks at Foucault's work in relationship to the legacy of French colonialism in North Africa. Read the first installment here: "The Dangers of Liberalism: Foucault and Postcoloniality in France" by Diren Valayden] “I am like the crawfish and advance sideways.”[1] So Foucault warns us in the Birth of Biopolitics. And indeed, one would need to be an extremely nimble, if not heroic, ...

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Roundtable Introduction: The Afterlives of the Algerian Revolution

[The Algerian flag painted on a wall near Notre-Dame d’Afrique in Algiers. Photo taken by Thomas Serres.]

When Étienne Balibar wrote that “Algeria and France, taken together, do not make two, but something like one and a half,” he was probably offering a political provocation as well as a historiographical injunction.[1] Yet the statement poses the question of how to think about Algeria’s independence as an Algerianist rather than as a historian of France. It poses the question as to why the amnesia that has long marked the French academy vis-à-vis Algeria has been reproduced in ...

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Picturing Algeria

[Cover of Pierre Bourdieu,

Pierre Bourdieu, Picturing Algeria. Edited by Franz Schultheis and Christine Frisinghelli. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. [This review was originally published in the most recent issue of Arab Studies Journal. For more information on the issue, or to subscribe to ASJ, click here.] In a poignant interview included in Picturing Algeria, Pierre Bourdieu notes that “Yvette Delsaut wrote a text about me in which she very rightly says that Algeria is what allowed me ...

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Algeria Between “la Boulitique” and la Politique: A Tale of Two Youths

[An image from the Mouloudia Club d’Alger versus Union Sportive Médina d'Alger match. Image taken from]

La politique est une réflexion sur la manière de servir le peuple.
La «boulitique» est une somme de hurlements et de gesticulations pour se servir du peuple. La politique is a reflection on the manner to serve the people. La boulitique is an accumulation of screams and gestures (invoked) in order to use the people. - Malek Benabi Rarely is the noise in Algiers as deafening, or the traffic as disorderly. If young Algerians are often depicted as hittistes, hanging out ...

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Memory Wars and the Messiness of History: An Interview with Jim House on the Commemoration of 17 October 1961

[Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, left, greets French Interior Minister Manuel Valls before a meeting in Algiers, Sunday, 14 October 2012. Photo by Sidali Djarboub via AP.]

[Dr. James (Jim) House is a Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Leeds. His research interests have focused on the history and memory of the Algerian War of Independence along with antiracism in France. His monograph, "Paris 1961: Algerians, State Terror, and Memory," which he co-authored with Neil MacMaster, looks at the events the 17 October Massacre in the context of colonial violence and social memory. Dr. House's current research focuses on ...

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الحدود والرؤوس المومئة: مرحلة ما بعد الاستعمار والذكرى الخمسون لاستقلال الجزائر

[ AP Photo/Sidali Djarboub ]

قد يقول البعض إن الجزائر تعد بامتياز نموذجاً لمرحلة ما بعد الاستعمار. لقد أعطت حرب الاستقلال طويلة الأمد والتي أصبحت نموذجاً لصراع العالم الثالث، والحزب الوطني الذي كان فرانتز فانون متحدثه الرسمي، دفعة لكلمة algérianité (الوطنية الجزائرية)، والتي كانت كلمة طنانة في كل البحوث التي تناولت مرحلة ما بعد الاستعمار. إضافة لهذا، فإن جبهة التحرير الوطني، والتي أعلنت نفسها الحزب الوحيد حتى 1989، لم تفز بالحرب ضد الفرنسيين فقط (وضد خصوم جزائريين) أثناء الثورة وحسب، ولكنها بقيت في ...

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When the Lights Go Out: A Discussion with David Theo Goldberg

[David Theo Goldberg. Image via the author.]

David Theo Goldberg is the Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, and one of the world’s leading figures in Critical Race Theory. Ten years ago he started SECT (the summer Seminar in Experimental Critical Theory). From 29 July - 9 August, the eighth session of SECT was held in Beirut, Lebanon on the theme of “Spaces of Resistance.” What follows is a conversation I conducted with David Theo ...

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Borders and Bobbing Heads: Postcoloniality and Algeria's Fiftieth Anniversary of Independence

[The ticket for the celebrations at the 5th July Stadium which bears the official logo for the 50th anniversary seen all around Algiers. Image by author.]

Algeria, one might say, is a site of postcoloniality par excellence. A protracted war of independence that was the model for third-world struggle and a nationalist party that had Frantz Fanon as an official spokesman gave rise to a word, algérianité, that has become a buzz-word of postcolonial studies. Moreover, the FLN (Front de Libération Nationale), which declared itself the sole party until 1989, not only won the war against the French (and other rival Algerian ...

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The Invention of the Savage: Colonial Exhibitions and the Staging of the Arab Spring

[An image from

Watching a popular uprising in real time was indeed a dramatic experience. As viewers tuned in (or streamed in) to the violence, courage, and uncertainty of events in North Africa this year, many of them had the impression of witnessing the “actual” events, free from the framing tactics and analytical bias often found on the six o’clock news. A host of new media celebrities became household names as they reported live from Tahrir, and news outlets such as Al-Jazeera saw an ...

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Knowledge and Power in Algeria: An Interview with Daho Djerbal on the Twentieth Anniversary of NAQD

[Poster for NAQD. Image via the author.]

It is still very possible to work on Algeria without ever passing through the Contrôle Passeport in Algiers. For a host of reasons—archival, bureaucratic, historical and, perhaps, psychological—Algeria remains on the margins of its own historiography. Arriving in September, I expected to get many questions from scholars who have worked here in the past, pertaining to the current conditions of research, the upcoming legislative elections, and the finally-completed metro ...

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The Nature of Oil: Reconsidering American Power in the Middle East

[Image via the author.]

Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. New York: Verso, 2011. Toby Craig Jones, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010. Robert Vitalis, American Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2006. For most of those who consider themselves politically liberal, oil—along with environmental degradation and foreign occupation—form a kind of ...

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Algeria and the Arab Spring: A View from the Forest

[Residents of Bois des Pins have demonstrated against the construction of a commercial parking lot and the destruction of forest lands in Hydra, a suburb of Algiers. Image Source:]

Algeria has been back in the “Arab Spring” headlines this month, though for more ambiguous reasons than the lifting of the state of emergency in February.  Since the fall of Qaddafi, Algeria’s role has been cast as a bastion of the military elite, on the one hand, and a quiet supporter of Qaddafi’s regime, on the other. The suspicion that Algeria may be “Immune to the Arab Spring” is related to the lack of “Tahrir-style” mass protests, its willingness to offer ...

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The Post-Racial Pitch: FIFA, Nationalism and Islam

[Iranian women's national soccer team was disqualified from an Olympic qualifying match against Jordan because of the head covering that players were wearing. Image Source: Reuters]

Iran and Palestine, generally outside the soccer mainstream, have both made FIFA headlines in recent weeks. FIFA declared the 3rd of July a "historic day for Palestinian football" after the Palestinian national team defeated Afghanistan in a World Cup qualifier. In a less celebratory vein, FIFA banned the Iranian national women's team from an Olympic qualifying match against Jordan because of the headgear worn by the players. Another Middle Eastern country, Qatar, ...

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Algeria's Impact on French Philosophy: Between Poststructuralist Theory and Colonial Practice

[Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Derrida. Image from the University of Chicago Chronicle.]

Pal Ahuluwalia. Out of Africa: Post-Structuralism’s Colonial Roots. New York: Routledge, 2010. Jane Goodman and Paul A. Silverstein (eds). Bourdieu in Algeria: Colonial Politics, Ethnographic Practices, Theoretical Developments. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009. Christopher Wise. Derrida, Africa and the Middle East. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. In the past few years, there appears to have been a falling out between Middle Eastern studies and ...

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French Wildflowers and Algerian Gangsters: Humanism and Violence at the Movies

[Image from the publicity poster for

Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men). Written and directed by Xavier Beauvois. France, 2010. Hors la loi (Outside the Law). Written and directed by Rachid Bouchareb. Algeria/Belgium/France, 2010. Recently, two movies have offered Algeria a starring role at the post-colonial box-office. Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men), which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes film festival and César award for Best Film, is the story of seven Trappist monks who lived in Algeria ...

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Emergencies and Economics: Algeria and the Politics of Memory

[The crest of the UGTA (The General Union of Algerian Workers)]

On February 24th the Algerian government lifted the state of emergency that has been operative in Algeria for almost two decades. Undoubtedly, this was a response to the changing political tides in the Middle East, as well as popular unrest in Algeria itself. While localized riots have been a common occurrence in the country since 2005, the start of 2011 has witnessed a wave of simultaneous protests in Algeria. On January 8th, the regime announced it would temporarily ...

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From Cairo to Madison: the New Internationalism and the Re-Mystification of the Middle East

[Image Source: Unknown]

After being glued to Al-Jazeera for what seemed like decades, I returned to semi-normal life and found that there was breaking news in the academic circles as well. In the last three weeks, the popular overthrow of Ben Ali and Mubarak seems to have brought about the demise of another oppressive foe of the Arabs: Islam. Once fixated on Muslim psychology and Qu’ranic exegisis, commentators now have no choice but to emerge from their essentialist slumber to return to the ...

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Muriam Haleh Davis


Muriam Haleh Davis is a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. She is currently working on a book manuscript that studies the role of economic policies in reformulating notions of racial difference in Algeria from 1958-1965. She is also a co-editor of Jadaliyya's Maghreb Page.