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Amazigh/Berber Memory Work

Amazigh/Berber Memory Work

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Published by: Carly Sutherland on Dec 14, 2008
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Berber/Amazigh Memory Work




Work Memory Berber/Amazigh

The transnational Berber lAmazighl culture movement that emerged in recent decadeshas been a multifaceted phenomenon. As is the casewith all ethnonational projects, the 9!a!-o-141i9g-apd.diss-esi-n-aflpn-o-f-modern lerber identity has been accompanied by th-e fashiaa-i-ng*-o-f-a*memorycommunityi' This involved a search for a useable past and, once found, its enshrinement in new narratives, rituals, and collective commemorations. Shared memory, Anthony Smith tells us, is as essentialto the survival of a collective cultural identity as is the senseof a common destiny.2It goes without saying that the greater the successof the process of "remembering, recovering and inventing" Berber history,3 the greater the influence it will have on Algerian and Moroccan societies.a Berber "memory worK' is carried out in a variety of ways and on a number of different levels. In its more popular form, the promotion of Berber history and memory involves a considerable degree of myth making and essentializingof the Berber "spirit" (embodied in |ean Amrouche's memorable phrase, "the eternal fugurtha").5 In the realms of scholarship and journalism, the_te-o*pe_fllug_OfNsrth Africanhistory to includelheBerher-q pften pqqgs*real challenges ts*the 1'offieiat:-history propagated"bg-e9,nIglT"tp_g1ary !.igrth. Affiean states and .the-.largerArab.=Islamic,milieg-nfrathich Ee-rbrrs.are a pafi. Related to but distinct from the work of historians are acts of commemoration, namely, the creation, elaboration, and vigilant protection of "memory sitei' (Iieux de memoire) that enable groups to buttress their identities againstthe constant push and pull ofhistorical currents that threaten to sweep them away.6Musicians, poets, and writers have taken a preeminent role in this regard, and some, such as writer Mouloud Mammeri and singer-poetLounes Matoub, havebecome a kind of "memory site" as themselves, either cultural icons, martyrs to the cause,or both. of The task of Berber memory work is formidable. From the begirrrrirrg rts recordedhistory in North Africa, the Berlrershavc lrccttclcpiclecl scttti

qqls,idersrequiring a Siv,illzi{lglad. Iheyhav"e"he.en savage especially. .b,"uryilh gl]"F3;-tsrn dengdby the lpg+gy_-o"-f Iplamieh_Lrtory4*riehprovide-d thgm inJhe-zrn4g,"gL!-eit 1pd Arab"origin.myth::-that,-legitimize&theie"i.nelusion as 4 pgimitiv.e" theiErnisc.ommunity,r€-qqtr-"ing the..Islamic-faith..to."iustify gion and-assumption.of-power.7 of this istislam,or "submissionj'inPart volvedthe seemingly natural superiorityconferredon the Arabic language, the language through which God'sword wastransmittedand subsequently interpretedby the doctors of the holy law. Ironically,it was a non-Berber, the premierMaghribi historianIbn Khaldun,writing nearlysevenhundred yearsafter the Islamic conquestof North Africa, who made the Berbersa 'greatnation'like othersinthe umma.evenashe usedthemto demonstrate historicallawsof the rise and declineof societies. Up until recently,the essentiallyoral culture of the Berbers and the 4earth of written texts in TamazightplacedBerber memory workers at a di_sadv'?n-tage..The political, social,and cultural marginalizasteady -_severe tion of Berbercommunitiesover the lastfive hundredyearsmadememory work evenmore difficult. Smith'sdescriptionof the difficultiesconfronting "Excludedfrom demotic and peripheralethniesseems for the Berbers: apt p,ndbq1eft institutionalsupport, of lhc instlumcnls of political q1,nsmlssion and sometimes without 1-!bT of.sp_eci3lip{s- developed and codesof communication[,] , , . thei-rme3gdg:-.j"lttg"ll_s,r"l,tr,'9if hqq"ggs-shadowy, their and

jiooityao-9"m"ni"a:'t . l+t-.'h"g;rd .qf.udttisnu ".,.,

Nonetheless, threatspg.s_ed Bgrberlapguage identity_-b-y.{r-pl-""1ythe and 1o qp.mingon o-f lndependentstatesl.policies centralizalipn4nd Alabi-zgtioq, bl Eur-ope,g1 pnd lmJhe.m-as-si-v..e-,rrphe.avals.g9ng5ated coloniaJig;p lgp -o_-f gffectsof p*qrgl!.s,9.pd.tqppsd.offby the.often pernicioushomogeq!7i.ng globali?ation pfoq_e,-son local cultures, havealsohad a salutaryeffect. The 9S quest for cultural authenticity,perceivedas the basisof collectivedignity and hencefreedom,is a worldwide contemporaryphenomenonin which Berberintellectuals and activistsactivelyparticipate.As Smith says,if "the and re-apsecretof identity is memory,the ethnic past must be salvaged propriated,so asto renewthe presentandbuild a common future in a world of competingnationalcommunities."e wonder,then, that the Amazigh No movement places premiumon memorywork. a The PremodernPast Moroccanhistory,as it appears lhe oftc1alep11qg!_iq.-c-p1.{,i_qu,!ggr-,_!s.eIin plicitly"nalionalist/clynastici' incorporating Islamic histoly_ a specific lnto

Maddy-Weitzman 52 / Bruce Moroccan historical experiencebeginning with the arriYal of Islam and of continuingthrough the establishment the Idrisid dynastyin A.D. 788by son-inof Idris I, a descendant the family of Ali, the ProphetMuhammad's in are law.Although Berbers subsumed this history,they at leastcarry some implicit standing:The Idrisis are known to have married Berberwomen' and Moroccan dynastiesbetweenthe eleventhand fourteenth centuries By were Berber-based.l0 contrast,narrativehistory as taught in indepenschoolshasbeen strikingly lacking in any Algerian-centered dent Algeria's distant to Berberityhasbeenconsigned Algeria's orientation.ThusAlgeria's past or ignored entirely.Moreover,the twentieth-centuryAlgerian Salafi in historian Tawfiq al-Madani regardedthe Berbersas "noble savages" a he pristine state,a cultural blank page.It wasthe Islamic conquest, wrote, that brought aboutthe "perfection"of the Maghribi peoplethrough a fusion of Arabs and Berbersinto one comtnuniryll Only recentlyhas this official with for Salafireadingof Algerianhistorybegunto be questioned, example, the productof the interacof representation Algeria as MahiedineDjender's civilization.lz tions of a Mediterranean qligll]LsPggqc 4uqz-tgLnLeo0*o-ry-,1c-p,rkers*regar-dle-rg.althertcpcnlrx-sf

Berber/AmazighMemory Work /


the defining featureof culture and history (notwithstandingthe fact that Amazigh heroesduring the Roman and Byzantineperiod had Latinized namesand may or may not havebeen fluent in the Amazigh language). As such,Amazigh history can be tracedeven further into the past,many hundredsof yearsbeforethe barbaroibeganappearing Greekchronicles. in Moroccan-bornethnologistHeleneHaganhaswritten a fascinating monographon the Amazighunderpinningsof ancientEgyptiancivilizationbased on the etymological roots of its language.ls The "Libyan' pharoanic dynastyfoundedby Sheshounk in 945 B.C.is now commonly referredto by I Amazigh memory workersasthe moment of entry of the Amazigh people into history.Indeed,the Paris-based Acadimie Berbdrechoseto propagate a Berber calendarwith the year of Sheshonk's ascentas its starting point. Accordingly,the year A.D. 2005is equivalentto 2955.Both datesare used on the masthead the Rabat-based of monthly Le MondeAmazigh(al-'Alam al-Am azighiI Am adalAm azigh). No lessimporta!-t &r Amazigt-A9m.g1'_yo_1kp_1g, g_lt-he {t"-",Jplgntr9!19g of hi.storyTfdid nof srrbor inatefheirjdgtJ-iff_per $mZrgb-wasnoUneend se,nor brin&it tp a mqst Berfectstate.In fact, it was the Amazigh people themselves, Chafik emphasizes, who played an important role in the disnstipn-a!1-lerritpr,.r"alp""riqrilie-s-,.d.pgr-e-e''''''''p1:n-il*p:s-x"sr.g9--*gsJgtvlthlheil*f seminationof Islam in both Africa and Spain.To that end,Tariq BinZiyad, .historical-accura,c;"a.r,e-Jiks:mjn$sdin..their-emphasisnnJhelgrjgr..ds.of the fabled astravinga+re*Islanic"pasLand"p.ne.invs..hi€lilt"h-eJ"*\eeJs.aq[ivg3ggqts, Berber commanderof the Muslim forcesthat first crossedinto P..pxs j.pd Iberia in A.D. very much belongsin the pantheonof Berber heroes, poJ.merel}"xoicc!e-qs.".namelp".s-aJo--ql"s-oJdi.e.:"s-"ga-d-rll.rlsrglgJnr-he-s4sgg 711, epitomized today by the Rabat center disseminatingBerber culture that Illustratedbooks for children tell the storiesof ancientAmazigh f.pasantsbearshis name.l6 Conversely, not surprisingly,the destructionwrought and and heroes,such asfuba, Massinissa, the BerberqueenDihya/the Kahina. in Andalusiain the twelfth century by the troops of the religiouslyzealous The Kahina holds particularly rnythical statusamong Arnazigh memory Almohad Berberdynastyfounded by Ibn Tumart is conspicuously to workersasthe heroic leaderof Berberresistance Islamic invaders(for a absent from Berbermemory work. Collectivememory aswe know is always use recentand contested of the Kahina in Algeria,seebelow).l3 selechas tive, asmuch aboutforgettingasaboutremembering.lT MohamedChafik,the deanof MoroccanBerberistintellectuals, conChafik laid out his interpretationof MoroccanAmazigh history during memory,and henceits idenMaghribi collective soughtto redefine sistently North African the Islamicperiod starkly,and at timespolemically, the BerberManifesto, pre-Islamicpast.Recorded in trty,by rehistoricizingMorocco's issuedin March 2000 and signedby more than two hundred BerberintelGreeks,Carthaginians, datesback to the Rornans, history, he emphasizes, populectuals. While providing a detailedexposd the shortcomings the indeof and even,at times, PharoanicEgypt.The native Amazigh-speaking of pendence the manifestoalsoplaces era, them in abroaderhistoricalcontext, lation was part and parcel of this history, accordingto Chafik, and proalbeit one not commonly found in the history books.Most people,it says, duced numerous historical figures, such as Terentius (a Carthage-born recognize that the imposition of colonialismin 1912 madepossibleby the secondcentury B.C'), playwrightwriting in Greekand Latin during was the sorry stateto which Moroccohad sunk.The reasonfor this wasthe triTertullianus(an important Christian writer from Carthagein the late first umph of the makhzeniants political tradition of despotismand oppression, century-early secondcentury A.D.), Arnobius (another Christian writer' accompanied "haughtiness, A.D)' by ostentationand pomp."This tradition is said born in a Numidian villagein the secondhalf of the third century is to havebeeninherited from the Ummayadand Abbasidempires,'tontrary language For and St. Augustine.la Chafik and other Amazigh activists,

54 / Brurc Maddy-Weltzman prescribed Islami' and practiced by to the spirit of political consultation by the Prophet Muhammad and the first four Caliphs.Coincidentallyor wasin line with Amazigh not, this latter spirit, asdefinedby the manifesto, political traditions,which were'gearedtowardsmanagingthe affairsof the jama'a ('local community') . . . through dialogueand consultationl'The "pursuantto its heavyHeraclian-Khurasan heritagej'wassteered makhzen, who for centuries "influentialpeopleJ'those could"makeor breaki'who by preachedhatred toward anything Amazigh, while reducing the historical the Occasionally, rnanifestostated,enlightened roles playedby "Berbers." effortstoward the Amazighpopulation.HowSultans madecommendable circles"taught hatred towardsanything Amazigh to ever,the makhzenian their generation oftheir offspringi'Theirdesireto preserve aftergeneration upon dogprivileges them to blindly adhereto political traditionsbased led matic and tightly closedreligious thinking. The clashbetweenthesetwo worldviews resultedin violenceand disorder,rendering the country easy prey for foreign invaders. on Chafik'semphasis the purlty of Muhammadand his immediatesuccessors, rashidun (the "rightly guided" caliphs),is a theme common the to Islamic reform currents dating back to the late nineteenthcentury.In to one,which seeks incorpoChafik'sapproachis a consensual that sense, rate Moroccan Islam into Amazigh identity. To be sure, Chafik seemsto be advocatinga more thoroughgoingliberal reform of Islam than that of in reformersof earliergenerations, line with modern times.Still, eventhis

Berber/AmazighMemory Work /


due to them that the Berbersdid not write down their own history was simply inaccurate, accordingto Idrissi.such a view,he said,ignoredthe fact "the Berbersmixed with the Arabslike pure waterwith wine,'(quoting that Mokhtar soussi,a famousBerberMuslim intellectualof the earlytr,rrentieth century).TheBerbers, saidIdrissi,beganto havea collectivememory when they learnedto write in Arabic, aspart of the Islamic umma.z0 France,s Moroccan protectorate

The Berber Manifesto's critique of 'bfficial" Moroccan history during the yearsof the Frenchprotectorate withering. Makhzeniancircles, claims, is it actually welcomedthe French protectorateand were the main beneficiaries of its rule. Together, they werealignedagainstthe "rebelliousBerbers," who weremilitarily subjugated then consigned marginalizationand and to nondevelopment. when the time came for national rebellion againstthe French,it was the Irnazighenwho willingly provided the necessary manpower.At the sametime, the manifestostudiouslyavoidsany mention of the most powerful Berberleaderduring the protectorate years,Thami alGlawi, an omissionthat can only be understoodasa willful act.A positive reference Glawi, whosepower rivaled that of the Sultan's, to would situate contemporaryBerber discourseon the side of the Frenchcolonial power and opposedto Moroccan nationalism,not to mention the legitimacy of the monarchy;mererepetitionof the dominant nationalnarrativet negative p*ama-zigb-"LcgyrslseJlr[ggitr glugr treatmentof Glawi would run counterto the manifesto's :sg"I!9i-1g-fl Iglcls neLtruivgpe overallcritique of manymilitanl g-gpSl.ar.:sls,"amp-ng-tk3$SSd"t:gfg*dJgbhqhsl*of that narrative.Given Glawi'sprominent role in Moroccan history during contains thosetumultuousdecades, can perhapsexpectthat at somepoint both one 7sWr!:!nqzts.!',,.-hiih*s*'sr'-:tt*I-'vs-l,x-4gg.-"q-el*'set**lhel1ltl'.!.l dispassionate endardateonitsmasthS_+.d,_$g'l?4x_tlS_:Ig!sip"99j9l9gJg*itg!-Rsyilde historians and Amazighactivistsmore militant than those affiliatedwith the manifestowill take up the subject.2r RCAM)"isnptuniyersalk-iriewedwirhfuvs*arnone leC-g.l-tu:c.A$ez1ghe"fi In contrastto the silence Glawi,the leaderof thelg2l-26Rif rebellion on havealsobeencriticized for being essenChafik's writings againstspanishand Frenchforces,Muhammadbin Abd al-Krim Khattabi, On occasion, Moroccan hasbecomea preferred, tialist and ahistoricaland henceunhelpfulto the Amazighcause. evenrevered figurefor modern-dayMoroccanBer_ bers engaged memory work. Abd al-Krim combinedcharisma,military scholarRachidldrissi takesChafik to task for ignoring history for stating in prowess' without proof, for example, that ancientBerberkings soughtto uniff all of education both traditionaland modern,and a politicalagenda that led him to seekto uniSrthe historicallyfeudingtribesof the Rif into a single the Berbertribes under one centralpower,or for trying to forcibly bridge political unit. In the process, accumulated ultimate anti.imperialist Morocco'spre-Islamicand Islamic eras(for example,by holding up both he the credentials, RiffianleaderAbd al-Krim asBerber the Kahina and the twentieth-century inflicting a crushingdefeat Spanish on forcesat the battleof Anoual in 1921, outcomethat resonated heroesand models;for more on the latter,seebelow).Chafik'sdeclaration an widely throughout the Middle East and beyond.This triumph alsosupplies that the conqueringArabs were the enemiesof the Berbers,like all other important ammunition to modernday Berberactivists of conquerors North Africa from ancienttimesto modern,anclthat it was determined combatthe accusations Berbers to that too




l l r t t t t M tu ltly Wtilzttr tr tr

Berber/Amazigh Memory Work /


rule and that their assertionof Berber idenolicn collitboratcdwitlt colottiarl tity is linkcd to olclercolonialistprojectsto divide Berbersfrom Arabs. At {irst glance,appropriating bin Abd al-Krim may not seemlike an entirely smooth matter for secular Berberists. He is generally understood by historians to have been a promoter of Islamic reform,23in line with wider Islamic currents at the expenseof popular religious practice, which Berber activists often recognize as central to their specific heritage. Nor did bin Abd al-Krim emphasize an explicitly AmazighlBerber identity in his efforts to mobilize fellow Rifians againstthe foreigner.Hence, in addition to he his Islamic reforrnist creder.rtials, is often viewed as a premodern type of leader, leaclinga nol-untyl.ricaland ultimately futile nativist revolt against the corrcluerors. actualbehavior and bin As with all lristorical personalities, Abd al-Krim'.s views do rrot corrpletely lit the requirements of an idealized Berber hero. But contemporary Arnaz.ighactivistshave not been deterred by thesecaveats.They concentrateon portraying bin Abd al-Krim as a leader who heroically led his people againstthe occupier,unlike the urban Arab class,which sat on its hands during the Rifian revolt rather than lend a hand againstthe colonial oppressor.The recovery of the history of bin Abd al-Krim and his short-lived "Rifian Republic" is hence an ongoing project, intimately connected to the themes of marginalization and identity denial that characterize the contemporary Berberist discourse. Only recently, Amazigh activists initiated a campaign to return Abd al-Krim's remains from Cairo, where he died in 1963,and to construct a combination mausoleum-museum-cultural complex in his Ajdir redoubt.2aIn August 1999,the newly crowned King Muhammad VI conferred an important measure of legitimacy on Rifian Amazigh memory work. Aware of the Rif's problematic status,economically, socially, and historically vis-ir-vis the Moroccan central authorities, and seeking to bolster his own legitimacy in a region that his fathet as crown prince, had bombed and repressedin 1958-59, Muhammad made a high-profile visit to the region, something his father had always avoided. Moreover, his gestures to the Rifian Berbers were not limited to pledges for material improvement but also included a promise that the Ajdir ruins would be reconstructed and a visit with bin Abd al-Krim's son, who came especiallyfrom Cairo for the occasion. Notwithstanding Muhammad VI's gestures,however, he has failed to address a painful episode that highlights the makhzent historic indifference

to the Rifian war, namely, the Spanish military's systematic use of poison gas against Rifian fighters and civilians, with the assistanceof French and German manufacturers. It is only in recent years that this matter has come to light, thanks in part to the work of a number of Spanish scholars and British historian Sebastian Balfout25aswell astwo German journalists, who revealed German involvement in Spain'sactions. Le Monde Amazigh,which has played a prominent role in recent years in promoting and disseminating the Abd al-Krim story through articles and conferences,has given prominence to this shocking and sorry episode in a number of issues.The battle ptgqent: S.ul, qg_ .q!I]9Imarginalizatiqn and official.indifference.extendsto,.theyfvols 9f pgison gas attacks and their offspring"are. said-_t9".pgftrfr.o-mpumer_o99..l.r;qlthp5'abl-e_ms, including inordinatqlyhigh,faleEpJge.1r 9r.But up until now, Moroccan authorities have ignored Amazigh demands and been unwilling to raise the matter of possible acknowledgment and compensation for elderly survivors with the Spanish government, fearing that it would adversely affect bilateral ties.26 response,one speaker at a conference held In in the Rifian city of Tetouan in the spring of 2004 proposed a number of concretemeasures, including suing the German and French companiesthat participated in the manufacture of the toxic gases usedby Spain and appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.27 Praising bin Abd al-Krim's anticolonial exploits is only part of the {paTigh movement!^effo-rts to. deb.unk the stigrna-of eollaboration-wifl

r-qlers, whicf.,gqlp-ed,currency especially.after -the.jssuing."of 99!9n!gl qo;_q?lle-d .dahiir(royal ed.ic"t) b-y.the French authoritiesin.JgS0" "Berber the France's attemptto institutioqalizgBerbercustoma.ry law.at.the expense.of serveda$.a.cruci.al.catalyst.in the.,formation of.-the..natipnaliCl Qurani-claw movement.In recentyears,someBerberactivistshavetaken anotherlook at the episode. MuhammadMounib blamedthe nationalists the false for "Berber" appellationof the dahir, for it implicitly implicatedthe Berbersin the Frenchproject to divide them from the Arabs.z8 Chafik found another wayto debunkthe myth of Berbercollaborationwith the Protectorate, emphasizing importance transcribing the of and studyingAmazighpoetryas llte reservoir the memoryof resistance the Frenchoccupation of to during 191244.2e Commemorations battlesagainst colonizers, of the suchas the orteof llougaferin the Middle Atlas in 1933, connected organizers are by kr olht:r historicaland contemporary eventsin differentregions, as to so t.rrrplrirsizc supra-tribal, t lre collective natureof Berberidentity.3o


58 /


Berber/AmazighMemory Work /


Battlingthe lstiqlal The Moroccan Berberist counternarrativehas drawn an almost straight founding line betweenofficial indifferenceto the Rif and the subsequent and marginalizationof the Berbercommunitiesby the Istiqlalof the state dominatednationalistmovement.The failure of the stateto officially comto of memorate battleof Anoual or other episodes resistance the French the pacificationcampaigns, wrote one commentator,contrastedsharplywith The murder of Rifian its attentionto eventscommemoratingthe Istiqlal.3l apparently the order of on LiberationArmy leaderAbbasM'sa'adi in 1956, the Istiqlal'sMehdi Ben Barka,has becomeanother subjectof discussion of as in recentyears,32 has the authorities'forcible repression the 1958-59 Ironically,one of the eighteendemandssubmittedto the king in rebellion. November1958 a Rifian committee(which includedbin Abd al-Krirds by throughoutthe system son)wasfor the rapid Arabizationof the educational country.The context of this demand was the use of Frenchin the former which put the local populationat zone,to which the Rif belonged, Spanish ofcourse, Subsequently, relativeto the centralauthorities.33 a disadvantage of Arabizationbecameone of the chief bugaboos the Amazigh moverirent, and to the alreadyunequal, owing to the overt threat it posedto Tamazight socialstatusof its speakers. subordinate poifor As with the Rifian demands indemnity for the victims of Spain's is reopeningthe woundsof tr958 not just a matterof concern songasattacks, to historians, evento identitybuilders.In February2004,the Committee or The of Victims of the 1958WalmasEventswas established. committeedemandednot only the revelationof the truth but alsoindemnity for the survivorsof the repression the mostly BerberArmy of Liberationmembers, of from the Walmastribal grouping,by the "militia" of the Istiqlal party.As is wasdownplayed.3a the usuallythe case, royal family'srole in the events The first Amazigh intellectualto speakout publicly againstthe falsificaand the establishment tion of Moroccanhistory by the Istiqlal-dominated the the Berbers, thosewho represent "real cultureof systematic ignoring of Ali the countryi'was the recentlydeceased Sidqi Azaykou(d. 2004).Charcultural problem asstemming acterrzingthe historicalorigins of Morocco's from repeated colonizationby outsiders,including Arabs, and publishing his viewsin Arabic,no less(addingfuel to the fire), he wasconvictedin 1982 Beginof 'disturbing the securityof the state"andimprisonedfor oneyear.35 however,the Moroccanauthoritiesbegantreating such ning in the 1990s, the more benignly.By 2001, BerberManifestocould address expressions

Morocco's more recenthistory in an unabashedly revisionistand explicitly political tone. It hammeredawayat the denial of Morocco's'Amazighness" and the arrogationby professional politiciansand most members Morocof co'selites,since 1956,of "monopolistic rights to 'patriotism' and 'political action."'Even speakingof this monopolization,the manifestonoted, has long beena taboo in Moroccanlife. Little by little, statedthe Manifesto,it becameclear after independence that none of the extantpolitical forces,whetherpro-monarchyor not, were going to give the Amazigh their due and include them in the definition of a modern Morocco.Instead,successive nationalgoyernments pursuedthe 'Arab Maghribi' led by an ArabizedMopolicy of building an exclusively rocco.In presentingtheir demandsfor a reorderingof national priorities, the signatories the manifestowere determined"to combat the cultural of hegemony" that has been programmedin order to bury a very important part of [Morocco's] civilizationalheritage[emphasis original].36 in Although the broad dichotomy laid out in the manifestobetweenthe "good' Berbersand the "bad" Istiqlallmakhzenmay be generallyaccepted by the Amazigh movement,a more complex reality has begun to be acknowledged.SomeBerbers,including former Liberation Army members, joined the Union Nationaledes ForcesPopulaires(UNFP) in 1959, which was formed by Ben Barka as a breakawayfrom the Istiqlal. They did so, accordingto veteranactivist Muhammad al-Kassimi,in order to stop the injustice causedto authentic"resisters" the appointmentto high posiby tions of "collaboratorsi'e.g.,Gen. Muhammad Oufkir, who servedin the French army (as did tens of thousandsBerbergoums [tribal irregulars]) and eventually became king'sright-hand man until his ultimate demise the "feudalistsj'a reference the Berberrural notables inl972, and to who made common causewith the monarchy through the Mouvement Populaire.3T The state's crackdownon the tribes of the Khenifra region inI973 followed an attempted uprisingin MoulayBouaza the UNFP'ssecret by military wing led by Sidi Muhammad Umed, which, accordingto Kassimi,had won a measure sympathyamongthe civilian population.The punishment inof flicted on his family, friends and the region in generalis now being spoken of openly,along with demandsfor indemnities.Meanwhile,Umed fled to Algeria,where he had previouslyresidedfor twelveyears,died during the and 1980s, wasburied therewith honors.To complicate picture further, the the UNFP itself may have been involved in the unsuccessful coup d'6tat againstKing HassanII the previousyear,through Lt. Col. Muhammad Amokrane. This of coursewas the event that brought Oufkir, held up by

60 / Maddy-Weitzman Bruce
Berber/Amazigh Memory Work / 6I

to during the 1950s, ruin.38The Kassimi as the'tollaborator" par excellence very fact that Le Monde Amazigh published the interview with Kassimi while he was being treated in an army hospital at the state'sexpense for injuries he suffered while in prison, indicates the increasing possibilities of conducting open discussion of formerly repressedepisodesof Morocco's recent past. It also signals that at least some within the Amazigh moveof ment are opposed to reductionist, one-dimensional representations that past.3e

Subaltern History Recovering and remembering rural and tribal history is very much part of the Amazigh culture movement's agenda.Here the primary factor in determining identity is not language per se but land, around which society is organized. In Morocco, the authorities, whether French or Moroccan' are depicted as running roughshod over Amazigh communal land rights and traditions. For example, Le Monde Amazigh published a long article denouncing the administrative confiscation of the lands belonging to the Zayan tribes in the Khenifra region, pointing to similarities between current policies and those used by the Protectorate authorities, who had bought out one of the leadingcailds,Mouha U Hamou Zayani. Previously, he had joined with Arab tribes in their fight againstthe French during their "pacification' campaign. However, in return for his agreement not to fight the French any further, Mouha U Hamou was granted the lands of neighboring tribes. The confiscation of communal lands also had important negative effects on social and cultural life. For example,a traditional spring holiday gathering of the Zayan tribes, which featured a theatrical performance by tribal notables involving pledges of mutual solidarity and a sharing of the lands, according to Berber customary law, vanished with the transfer of the lands to Mouha U Hamou. The administrative means for doing so were and remain Royal dahirs, which do not recognize customary law and view tribal lands as belonging to the state.ao The question of the relationship between customary law and Islamic law has been ofcontinuing interestto scholars.The French Protectorateauthorities stepped into a minefield when they tried to formally institutionalize customary Berber practicesand thus officially place them on an equal fooling with the Sharila. It is generallyheld that Berber customary law (izcr.l)is Howcvcr, to not diametricallyopposed the Shari'a and takesit irrtoaccourrl.

Injaz Abdallah Habibi, in writing aboutthe Zayantribes,openly questions whetherthis is the case, indicatinga desireto diminish the religiousaspects of Berberidentity.His emphasis the positiveaspects communalvillage on of customsis part of a broaderthemeof Amazigh memory work, namely,the essentially democraticnature of village societyand, by extension,Berber cultureasa whole(asarticulated the BerberManifesto). uplandvilin The lageis presented the repositoryof deep-rooted as Berbertraditions,with the traditional art, handicrafts, householdmanagement and bywomen who stood at the centerof daily life.arS_uch trgatmgn-!.al timggspillsover into an idealizationof tra{ltlgqal life, reminiscentof the"nostalgiarladen presenta tlg gf th" Eptern Europeanlewishshtetl(v!f!agg) writers and publicists by k99n on promotlng and presel-ving Jewiqh.i_denil* culture, evenas its "and wasbeing erodedand then violeqtly qr.a{lcated. Another writer even fgg went so far as to describe villagesocietyt organizingconceptof jama'a, which is usuallyassociated with a (negative) tribal mentality,ashaving the attributesof love,altruism, love of the land and the 'bther," and hencebeing not in contradictionwith the requirements modernity but rather in of harmony with it.azThis may seemcontrived; however,it may also fit the category reinterpretingone's of history and societyin a usefulfashion. Ali Azaykou,for his part, recommended studyingMorocco's pastvia the methodof /?istoiretatoude, metaphorfor unwritten documents a preserved by geography and archaeology, addition to the oral traditions embodied in in the Amazigh collectivememory.In addition, one may learn something evcpfrom the actualtaltoo often engraved the Berbers'skin.Useofthe on tattoo metaphoris especially poignant,given the fact that in contemporary Morocco,the tattoo is often seen as an emblem of inferiority inflicted by parents,and considerable efforts are made to surreptitiouslyremove .one's it, often resultingin scarringof the skin.a3 Algeria's Berbers- Kabyleand Chaouior Amazigh? The Berberist readingof the broad historicalthemesof Amazighhistory in both the pre-Islamic Arab-Islamic and periods, well asthe challenges as posed the postcolonial by state, across cut contemporary inter-state boundrries.France's aborted effortsto base rule on a policyof dividingBerbers its lhrnr Arabs,underpinned a well-constructed of origin and character by set tttylhs,aa pr<lved difficult legacy Berbers both Moroccoand Algea for in liir, wlro werre painsto demonstrate irl. their patrioticand anticolonial crerlcnlills.l{cgardless theirefforts, of contemporary opponents the Berber of

62 /


Berber/AmazighMemory Work /


culture movementaccuse of promoting colonialismin a new guise.But it unlike earlierdecades, Berberinsistence their anticolonialistcredentials on doesnot deter them from sharplycriticizing Arab nationalism,the dominant ideologyof all modern states North Africa. More and more, Arab in nationalisrnappears Berberdiscourse a perniciousforeignimport, its in as fuller appellation being'Arab-Islamic Ba'athism" alternately,'Arab-Isor, larnic totalitarianism." rejectingthe Arab nationalistdoctrine of a single In Arab homeland(al-Watanal-'Arabi) from the Atlantic Oceanto the persian Gulf, Berberistsemphasize existence a singleAmazigh people the of existing from time immemorial in its homeland (Tamazgha), stretching from the CanaryIslandsto the Siwaoasisin westernEgypt.Effortsto desacrahze Arabic language the include labelingthe Arabic script'Arameanl'as Concurrently,a modified versionof the ancientTifinagh script, preserved for usage the TouaregBerbersof the Sahara, held up as an important by is symbolof Berberidentity, and its usage activelypromoted.In the realm is of commemorative efforts,pan-Berberidentity was recentlymanifested in a petition by the Paris-based Congrds Mondial Amazigh to the UN's Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) demanding that Franceadd to its list of officiallysanctioned holidaysthe Amazighholidaysof Yennayer(Amazigh New Year,a traditional agricultural festival), occurring on |anuary 12,and the'Amazigh Spring" (commemoratingthe events Algeriain 1980; below),on April20.a6 in see At the sametime, the particularhistoricalexperiences socialrealities and of the berberophone communitieshaveshaped their memory work, resulting in a type of"Berberism in onecountryi'carrying at leasta potentialtension with the pan-Berberist view. Nowhereis this more evidentthan with the Kabylians, who makeup two-thirds of Algeria's berberophone population. To be sure,Kabylians haveplayeda vanguardrole in laying the foundation for the modern Berber culture movement,embodiedover the last four decades the France-based by intellectualproduction ofsuch bodiesas the Acad6mieBerbdre/Agraw Imazighen,the Group d'EtudesBerbdres de lluniversitd de Paris-vIII, and the centre de Recherche Berbdreat Institut NationaldesLangues CivilisationsOrientales(INALCO) in paris.Howet ever,the samefactorsthat placedthem in the vanguardof "pan-Berberism" alsoresulted a sharpening in ofKabylian specificity. contrast,the second By largestberberophone group,the Chaouia(from the AurdsMountains),has historicallybeenlessisolatedfrom its Arab surroundingsand slowerto developa modern Amazighidentity. Thefirst manifestations a moderntypeof Kabylian-Berber of conscious-

ness'expressed through new kinds ofcultural expressions such asthe poetry of resistance colonization,were alreadymaking their appearance of at the end of the nineteenthcentury.At this point, therewas no intermediate reference an 'Algerian" or "Maghribian' community,only the immedito ateKabylianidentity and the wider Islamic one.47 Amrouchdschants |ean Berbdres Kabylie(1939) de was followedby many other works in the fields of music and poetry (e.g.,works by Mouloud F6raoun,TaosAmrouche, Mouloud Mammeri, and Ait Menguillet).Their recovery, transmission, and production of Kabylian cultural artifactswere crucial to the development of modern Kabylian identity. on the more explicitly political level,young radical Kabylian militants who fomentedthe so-calledBerberistcrisis in 1948-49,sharpenedmatters further. According to the analysisof Melha Benbrahim,the textsof thesemilitants are dominatedby references the to Berber, and specificallyKabylian, patrimony: the reclaiming of the pre_ IslamichistoricalfiguresMassinissa fugurtha,and the heroicresister and to the Arab conquest, Kahina;the fierceKabylianresistance the French the to forces(1857, l87l); references the Djurdura and the montagneladrar to as a symbol of resistance; honor of the group; and their fidelity to their the ancestors symbolicheritage. and YoungKabylianintellectuals, states salem chaker, werethus situatedat the intersectionof radical nationalismof the modern type (laique)and the specificBerbercultural tradition.as Interestin the "Berberistcrisis" is part of the wider interestamongKabylian activistsin reopeningfor scrutiny the eventsof Algeria'swar of independence and its immediate aftermath.Scholarshavegenerallydownplayedthe specificBerber dimension of the Algerian revolution'sinternal blood-lettingsand political purges, example, assassinations for the ofAbane Ramadane and Belkacem Krim and the failure of Hocine Ait Ahmed'sopposition to the newly independentauthoritiesin 1962-63.ae Nonetheless, theseepisodes, underpinnedby the wholesale denial of Kabylianspecificity-and any diversity,for that matter-in favor of a stridentlyuniform and uni-dimensional nationalism,are now increasinglyviewed as part of the backgroundto the cultural flourishing and simmering proto-political opposition amongthe Kabyliancommunity during the 1970s. politically,Ait Ahmed organized supporters 1963 his in under the bannerof the Forces des Front socialistes. This organizationwould be joined at the end of the l9g0s by the smaller,more militantly secular-Berberist Rassemblement pour la Cultureet la D6mocratie.so Theproblematicnatureof the Algerianstateand its failure to adequately acconrmodate Kabylian the regiongenerated confluence circumstances a of

6'4 /

llrure Machly..Wellenun

Berber/AmazighMemory Work /


"BerberSpring"(LePrintemps Berbdre).sr Acthat fedtcrthe now-mythical "Theeffect the'Berber Stora, of spring'was produce, to to eorellng Benjamin fur the first time since independence and from within Algeria, a public counter-discourse real import, in a country operatingon the principle of of unanimism.In that compactuniverse, wheresocietyand state,privateand public mingled together in a singlebloc, the blossomingof autonomous popular associations and organizationsgavetexture to Algerian society. Theappearance cultural,democraticpluralism allowedconflictsexisting of 'within the people'to be expressed resolved political means."sz and by In terms of memory work the anniversary the BerberSpringhasbeof comea centralcommemorative eventfor Amazigh cultural associations in Algeria and the diaspora.53 Since2001,it hasbeenjoined by Le Printemps Nolr (BlackSpring),the bloody events sparked the deathof a youngKabby ylian in policecustodythat resultedin the deaths ofover one hundredpeople, a veritablecivil revolt againstthe authoritiesand the creationof a new body outsideof existingpolitical parties,the aarouch(lit. 'tribes"), which led an ongoingstruggleto change natureof Kabylian-state the relations and, by extension, natureof the Algerian stateitself.Theextentto which the the aarouch constituted modern,grass-roots a organization drawingsustenance from traditional collectivevillage symbolsor, alternatively, constitutedan unwelcomereversionto factionalized,premodern antidemocratictribal norms remainsto be determined.sa The two "Springs"of 1980and 2001serveasbookends,of a sort, to the breakdownof the postindependence FLN Algerian stateand the descent into horrific violenceduring the 1990s betweenthe authoritiesand Islamist oppositionforces. These tumultuoustimesresulted the creationof Kabylin ian "martyrs,"from the numerousintellectuals and artistsslain during the violenceof the 1990s,ss GuermahMassinissa, youth whosekilling to the touchedoff the BlackSpringin 2001. Singerand poet LounesMatoub is perhapsthe most prominent martyr of them all. His murder in fune 1998, allegedly Islamistextremists, by touchedoffmassiveantigovernment demonstrationsthroughout Kabylia, and his last CD, released posthumously, containsa withering indictment of the postindependence Algerian state, set to the tune of Algeria'snational anthem,with the refrain of "Betrayal, BetrayalJ' coverof the CD drawn by Ali Dilem, one of Algeria's The leading caricaturists, containsimagesof dripping blood, the Amazighflag,Algeria's military and political leadersand leadingIslamists, reference the Araa to 'AlgeriassicPark."It serves policy, and a sign that reads bization language (llRl'V) asan almosticonicposteq beingusedby Berbersatellite televisiorr

broadcasting from paris,for example. Matoub'sdeath,and thoseof others, quickly cameto serveasa reference point for increased Kabylianmilitancy. Giventhe centralityof cultural producersin the fashioningof modern KabylianlAmazighidentity,it wasfitting that a veteransinger/poet/activist, Ferhat Mehenni,hastakenthe reacl recentyearsin proiroting in autonomyfor Kabylie,a radical idea indeed.s6 whatever the courseeventJwouldtake,it wasclearthat the fearsof Mouloud Mammeri, the Kabylian cultural icon of the previousgeneration, another "absurddeath of the of Aztecs,, was premature,at the very least.57 Although Kabyliahasbeenat the centerof the ArgerianAmazigh movement'spolitical and cultural ferment,it would be misiaken to assigi it exclu_ sivity.ss Berbermemory work in the Aurdsregion,the siteof th. Lbl"d 8".ber resistance the invadingArab-Muslim forcesat the end to of the seventh century,has recentlyreacheda new level.In February2003, rlAssociation Aurds El-Kahina erecteda large statueof the heroic Berber queenin the centerof the town of Bagha'iin the wirayaof Khencher". Th" statuewas designedby a graduateof the EcoleNationaledes Beaux-Arts dAlger. of course'sucha public commemorative could not be done in act Algeria (except perhapsin Kabylia)without the consentof the authorities. In fact, the ceremony wasattended the presidentof the republichimsel{, AbdelAziz by Bouteflika.Thepresident's presence clearlyintendedasa gesture the was to Amazigh community,with whom the statehas been at logge-rheads for so manyyears(thoughprimarilyin Kabylia,not in the Aures); ii alsoindicated a desireto placegreateremphasis specifically on Algerian history, albeit a particular readingof it. Indeed,one shouldn'ttakethis too far; hispresence at the unveiling of the Kahina statuewas ignored entirely by the national press. of course, Amazighactivists contest state's the orientationto Berberheritage, whetherit involvedappropriationor neglect. one Aurds-centered web site,displayingthe picture of the new Kahina statue,added superimposed imagesof the Amazigh flag on both sidesof the Kahina statue's pedestal.se Activists bemoan the degradationand official neglectof the archaeological site' which is considered havebeenthe mountainousredoubt to of the Kahina. Someacademics have urged that uNESCo be approached into clude it on its list of protectedworld Heritagesites,and that the Ministry of culture take the lead in promoting its va1ue, it was inhabited as from prehist.ric times until the eleventhcentury Hilalian invasion.60 According to chaouia activists, endangered the statusof anothersite posesa threat lo their collective memory:the mausoleum Imadghacen, cylindricar of a



aa I l l k r r , i l ftr r lr lt,lr tll;r tr tu r

Berber/Amazigh Memory Work / 67 includes the date according to the Jewish calendar on its masthead!) Alternatively, will space be made for multiple, even competing narratives? will Amazigh commemorative efforts be legitimized or repressed? And what may be the impact on the Amazigh movement's memory work of varying state policies? one may only say that the fashioning of Amazigh identity through memory work promises to be an ongoing and ever_increasing en_ terprise that will surely have an impact on, and interact with, parallel processescurrently reshaping the identity of Algerian and Moroccan societies as a whole.

lrcderldl eighteerrand a half meters high and fifty-nine meters in diamclrlr' iu tlrc' wilirya of Batna, which is among the oldest material evidence rl'tlre Massyle Amazigh dynasty, and which under the subsequentrule of Massinissais consideredto have sought to unifr the Maghrib into a single entity. A suggestion to rename the Batna airport after Imadghacen (Imedhassen) was rudely rejected, prompting the following rejoinder from the disappointed former governor of Batna, who had been removed by Bouteflika allegedly following the pressure of the "local mafia": "|ust as you have negated our origins at this moment, there will come a generation which will negate youi'61Meanwhile, chaoui Amazigh activists have begun using the name anyways.62

Concluding Thoughts As Lawrence Rosen has shown in his study of a Moroccan village, day-today social boundaries between 'Arabs" and "Berbers" are generally fluid and negotiable,63 belying the all-too-common tendency among pundits and policy makers, past and present, to cast in stone the "Berber-Arab dichotomyi' Nonetheless, in light of the social, cultural, and political developments in Morocco over the past thirty years, it would behoove researchersto revisit this relationship, particular as Berber memory work proceeds apace. The same is true regarding neighboring Algeria. In his insightful analysis of "the Berber" as a national signifier in Algerian historiographies, fames McDougall warned against the possibility that the development of a Berber counter-narrative to the Algerian state'sdominant narrative might harden social boundaries and intolerance in the name of cultural authenticity, a process that would in effect substitute one essential "authenticity" for another.6aIndeed, one can identifii without difficulty this tendency among some Amazigh militants. At this point, Berber memory work, and the Berber/Amazigh culture movement to which it belongs, is clearly a genie that has been let out of a bottle whose cork was then discarded. Its future course, permutations, and points of emphasis will depend in no small measure on the policies of the Algerian and Moroccan states toward the phenomenon. will their dominant national narratives be sufficiently modified to include Amazigh elements?can one imagine, for example, that daily newspaperswill include the Amazigh year on their masthead, alongsidethe year according to the Muslim and Gregorian calendar?(Perhapsthis is not so far-fetchec.l; after all, the Moroccan palace's French-languagemouthpiece, Le Motitt tlrt snltttrtt,
Note: This studywas supported by the Israel ScienceFoundation (grant no.5 25104_2U5). special thanks to samir Ben-Layashifor his assistance researching in this article. 1.For convenience's sake,the terms "Berber" and .Amazigh'will be used interchangeably throughout this chapter. 2. Anthony D. Smith, Nations and Nationarism in a Global Era (carnbridge: polity Press, 1995), 133. 3. Bernard Lewis,History-Remembered, Recovered, Invented(princeton, N.J.:princeton University Press,1976). 4' The percentageofberberophones in Algeria is generaily deemed to be 20-25 percent, and in Morocco 40-45 percent. 5' fugurtha was the king of a united Numidia between 156ancr104 B.c. and grandson of Massinissa.He died in a Roman prison. The article is remembered as depicting the Berbers as eternally rebellious; in fact, there was much more to Amrocuhes 1946 article, which described the duality of Berber culture in response to the .bther" and recommended the shedding of (female) cultural characteristicsthat prevented the Ber_ lrers from becoming agentsin history. Michael Brett anclElisabeth Fentress,TheBerbers ( l,ondon: Blackwell, 199 269-7 0. 6), 6. Pierre Nora, "Between Memory and History: LesLieux de Mdmoirel' Representa_ /iors, Memory and Counter-Memory specialissue,26 (Spring l9g9): 12. 7. Abdelmajid Hannoum, coronial Histories, post-colonial Memories: The Legendof lha Kahina, a North African Heroine (portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2001),7-9; Brett ittttl l:entress, Berbers,l20-32;Michael Brett,..IbnKhaldun and the Arabisationof North A liica," MaghrebRevi ew 4, no. I (f anuary_Feb rurry 197 9_16. r 9),: ll. Srnith, Nationsand Nationalism,64. 9. ll)i(1., 146. f0. Mrrya Shatzuriller, The Berbersand the Islamic state: The Marinid Experiencein Itrt l'rolcclorrila Morocco(princeton,N.J.:Markus Weiner,2000). ll. lirn('s Mcl).ugall, "Myth and counter-Myth: 'The Berber'asNational signifier in Algclirrrr lisloriogrirplricsl' I g6 Iladical llistoryReview (Spring2003): g0_gl. 75, l,l.lltirl.. l?. t

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