Nation, Society and Culture in North Africa

Nation, Society and Culture in North Africa

Nation, Society and Culture in North Africa

Nation, Society and Culture in North Africa


The essays explore the complexities of the relationship between states, social groups, and individuals in contemporary North Africa, as expressed through the politics, culture, and history of nationhood. From Morocco to Libya, from bankers to refugees, from colonialism to globalization, a range of individual studies examines how North Africans have imagined and made their world in the twentieth century.


It is with pride and honour that I introduce this volume on Nation, Society and Culture in North Africa edited by James McDougall which appears both as a book and as a special issue of The Journal of North African Studies that I edit with my colleague George Joffé. The study of North Africa or the Maghrib in the English-speaking world has expanded rapidly in recent years as reflected by the quality and quantity of original scholarship being produced, so well represented by the contributors to this collection.

History, geography, politics, and economics have long combined to explain the domination of French-language research and writing on the Maghrib. Yet, even during the most active period of Francophone scholarly production, English-language writers published some of the most intellectually stimulating, theoretically innovative, and empirically enriching scholarship ever produced which continues to inspire the work of younger researchers. Select representatives of these earlier writings are such distinguished intellectual path-breakers as Ernest Gellner, Clifford Geertz, David Hart, John Waterbury, Carl Brown, Charles Micaud, Bill Zartman, Charles Gallagher, John Ruedy, Clem Moore Henry, and Terry Burke, among others.

This is not at all to suggest that separate disciplinary traditions were being pursued, ones which divided Francophone scholars from their Anglophone counterparts. Indeed, from the outset there was an extensive cross-fertilisation of ideas and frameworks of analysis between French, British and American academics each using the others' language along with that of Arabic and Berber to deepen and extend the understanding of the North African state, culture, and society. James McDougall and his colleagues represent the best in this cross-over tradition integrating as they do different generational cohorts and disciplinary perspectives. What is particularly enlightening in this collection is the strong representation of women's scholarship with six of the nine substantive articles being written by female scholars.

While the first generation of modern English-writing on the Maghrib was dominated by men, subsequent generations have included a plethora of highly productive female writers within and outside North Africa including both senior and junior authors like Lisa Anderson, Melanie Cammett, Emma Murphy, Julia Clancy-Smith, Claire Spencer, Mounira Charrad, Boutheina Cheriet, Elaine Combs-Schilling, Laurie Brand, Eva Bellin, Susan Slyomovics, Alison Pargeter, Marnia Lazreg, and Susan Ossman.

This collection also continues in an impressive intellectual tradition of multi-authored volumes covering a wide-ranging cross-disciplinary

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