family that is the reproductive space par excellence. In this cloistered space, theambivalent attitude of neo-patriarchy feeds into the resolve of resurgent religiousfundamentalist claims in tailoring a lame or subordinated citizenship for womenin Algeria. e end result was the promulgation, in the early 1980s, of a Family Code bill. ese laws entrenched women within the conﬁnes of a “minority”status in exchange for their access to the polity. To be admitted to the polity asinto the public space, women in Algeria are asked to sacriﬁce their majority statusin the family, thus ensuring that their access to citizenship will not underminebelief in the conjugal and familial cosmogony.
Debates over personal status started as early as 1963 and were, at ﬁrst,dominated by the revolutionary euphoria of Independence. is was wellillustrated by the adoption, on July 25, 1963, of a law (Loi 63-224) establishinga minimum age for marriage. e law was intended to curb the early marriageof young girls. However, the bill was never enforced, as conservatives in thelegislative and executive bodies quickly denied its legitimacy and denounced it asa “secularist” move (secularism being understood as a menace to the social order).Further attempts at issuing progressive provisions favoring an individualizeddecision-maker status for women were made in 1966 and 1972. However,these too were aborted after negative reactions from conservative quarters. Mostsigniﬁcant in this contest was the systematic ambiguity of the elite in powerregulating the place of secularism, and that of women.
State and Kin vs. Women
e list of participants in the process of state- and nation-building in Algeria is by no means binary, and one could easily discern diﬀerences among revolutionary radicals, nationalist apparatchiks and technocrats, and religious conservatives asearly as 1962. Despite a unitary façade and an obligatory post-colonial rhetoric,radical opinion seemed to dominate early socio-political and ideologicaldiscussions of the polity; this was demonstrated by populist measures such asagrarian self-management, free education and health care, and a widespreadsocial security system. However, a 1965 coup d’état by Col. Boumediene (1965-1978) put a sharp end to the radicals’ revolutionary euphoria. e coup markedthe ﬁrst rupture with the “ideological” legitimacy of national unity implied by the 1954-62 anti-colonial war, and replaced it with a “technocratic” legitimacy of state-building eﬃcacy, sustained by a new discourse of “speciﬁc socialism.”For over a decade, a large consensus had apparently emerged in supportof the vast populist measures undertaken by the state technocracy. eir signalachievement was co-option of all trends of public opinion in the name of economic eﬃciency and social egalitarianism. e most notable co-option was