Amazigh recognition in Algeria

Mia Kristensen & Vilma Meškinytė

Studenteropgave: Bachelorprojekt


The indigenous people of North Africa, the Amazigh population, have been outnumbered by the Arabs since their invasion in the 7th century. Fighting and bombing heads have been regular ever since. However, during the period of decolonization the two populations fought side by side. After independence in the North African countries a heavy Arabisation followed, once again creating tension between the Arab and Amazigh population. Fighting to get recognition the Amazigh population has gained some since as e.g. in Morocco where the standardized Amazigh language, Tamazight, was recognized and is today sat out to be taught in schools. However, in Algeria this has not been the case. In this thesis, the focus is on the two ethnicities, Arabs and Amazigh, in Algeria. We are looking at how Amazigh is recognized as an ethnicity in Algeria. To define our view on ethnicities we are discussing Benedict Andersons theory of Imagined communities and a compiled understanding ethnicity. These are used in combination as a foundation of the view on ethnicity in this thesis (as an imagined community based on common customs and language). Then we use Charles Taylor theory of recognition and James Scott’s theory of Domination and resistance. These theories are used in symbiosis; used different parts of the analysis. One of the most important aspects to be recognized is based on recognition of language. Thus, language is the main element on which this thesis is focused. The Amazigh population makes up 25% of the Algerian population, yet they do not seem to be recognized in the same sense as the Arab population. The main focus of this thesis is looking at How is the Algerian state masking a relation of domination of the Arab over the Amazigh, and how can this be said to have created resistance within the Amazigh population? To investigate this we are using a levels of analysis approach. We were looking at the Algerian constitution and state action on language on the state level, and different elements of resistance on the local level. The result of our research was that the Algerian state seems to mask a relation of domination by recognizing the Amazigh population in some areas a language, but then not follow through with it. Moreover, the state acts as dominators in different areas as limited options for Tamazight (Amazigh language) in schools, making new laws of association and draining the Amazigh areas economically. This then creates resistance within the Amazigh population channeling their anger and frustration through protests, movements, and music.

UddannelserInternationale Studier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor
Udgivelsesdato27 maj 2015
VejledereJohan Fischer


  • Amazigh
  • Domination
  • Resistance
  • Ethnicity
  • Language
  • Arabs
  • Imagined communities
  • Recognition