MAGHREB-Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring

By Pack, Jason; Roslington, James | The Middle East Journal, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

MAGHREB-Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring


Pack, Jason, Roslington, James, The Middle East Journal


MAGHREB Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring, by Michael J. Willis. London: Hurst & Co, 2012. $35.

Reviewed by Jason Pack and James Roslington

Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring by Dr. Michael Willis is a single-volume guide to the post-independence high politics of the three core countries of the Maghreb. Willis - currently director of the prestigious Middle East Centre at St. Antony's College, Oxford University - effortlessly guides the reader through scholarly debates in the existing English-language literature on North Africa. Intense cross-referencing between chapters, an excellent index, and extensive endnotes make this an ideal reference volume. The paucity of coverage of the rich French-language scholarship and the absence of Arabic sources can be said to be the book's primary drawback. It is also part of the work's unique strength: its accessibility. Despite its dense, detail-filled narrative, Politics and Power in the Maghreb remains approachable for the lay reader and fulfills its primary aim - the creation of an up-to-date reference work on contemporary North Africa tailored specifically for the concerns of an Anglo-American audience.

The book's novel contribution lies in its broad and comparative approach. It builds upon the magisterial overviews of the Maghreb's contemporary history which were in vogue after independence, but which have appeared with ever-decreasing frequency in recent years (Barbour 1959; Berque 1962; Entelis 1980; Zartmann and Habeeb 1993; Vermeren 2004). Politics and Power is particularly timely as its broad focus links the apparent pre-2011 "stagnation" and increasingly authoritarian modes of political control to the outbreak of the Arab Spring.

Willis' broad, almost bird's-eye, view underlies his description of the divergent paths of post-independence state-building: revolution and populist military rule in Algeria; elite secularism and one-party rule in Tunisia; monarchy and political patronage in Morocco. He asserts that, by the 1970s, governance strategies in all three states had paradoxically converged upon ever-increasing centralization directed by a powerful individual. In narrating these processes, Willis provocatively emphasizes the passivity of ordinary people. "It is noticeable that, in discussing the political evolution of the Maghreb ... little mention has been made of the ordinary populations ... [who] were essentially peripheral ... they played little or no role in either the struggles for power or in the construction of the post-independence state - both processes being ... the preserve of the elites" (p. 70). This view may arise from the real deficiency in the existing literature concerning popular participation, but it strikes us as unlikely to reflect the complex reality during the rough-and-tumble grab for power at the local level to fill the vacuum leftby Spain and France.

Politics and Power is a refreshingly old-fashioned book. It appears calculated to strike a blow against the post-colonial focus on cultural studies which has dominated campuses in recent decades, culminating in the "marginalization" of diplomatic history. Willis resoundingly reaffirms the value of high politics and grand narrative for area studies. Consider his treatment of the evolution of Maghrebi state structures: the state was traditionally weak under the Ottomans and the Moroccan Sultan; it was the European colonial powers which created functional, modernizing, yet oppressive governance; "the comprehensive and pervasive nature of colonial control meant that its effects would not cease with the withdrawal of the last European troops and administrators" (p. 35); in the post-colonial period, the indigenous French-educated elites inherited, maintained, and buttressed these structures "not just out of necessity but in full consciousness of the fact that the colonial structures had been designed with the specific objective of establishing exclusive political control of the country" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

MAGHREB-Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.