Panel 6a. The Maghreb’s Linkage to Europe: History and Geography Ignored?

Chair: Jonathan Hill

A Fate Worse than France? Algeria, Democratisation and the Pressures of History
Jonathan Hill, King’s College London

According to Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way (2010: 44) history helps determine the range and strength of a country’s links to Europe and/or North America. And these links, in turn, help determine democracy’s chances of success in that country. If these ties are plentiful and robust then lasting democratisation is more likely. But if they are few or weak or limited to select areas of activity then that country is less likely to democratise. Drawing on the case of Algeria, the aim of this paper is to explore and, in part, problematize Levitsky’s and Way’s ahistorical treatment of history. History, including colonialism, can lead to greater and deeper links between an ex-colony and its former Metropole. But it can also lead, as Levitsky and Way do not acknowledge, to powerful desires to challenge and counter the past. Indeed, and as this paper will show, history’s role in Algeria is far more complex than what they permit. What links history encourages and has helped forge must be evaluated against these other emotions. The paper, therefore, will add depth and nuance to Levitsky’s and Way’s cursory invocation of history and their concept of linkage. Since history cannot perhaps be relied upon to operate in an anodyne way alone. History, as Algeria demonstrates, gives rise to powerful emotions which make linkage and, by extension, democratisation more problematic.

Traditions of Governance in North Africa
George Joffé, University of Cambridge

The recent political convulsions in North Africa have usually been analysed as a binary confrontation between universalist political Islam and secularist democracy, with violent chaos as the price of failure. To a very large extent, this has been a reflection of analytical templates derived, respectively, from the arguments of the Salafiyyist movement of the late nineteenth century or from the European experience of the Enlightenment, as mediated through the colonial moment in the region. Both approaches have denied ideological agency to North Africa and North Africans themselves; yet there is a long tradition of indigenous principles of governance there, both formal and informal. This paper examines some of these mechanisms, from the Khaldunian argument of the circulation of tribal elites, Moroccan concepts of communal consent and contract alongside mediation and arbitration, to Tunisia’s constitutional experiment, Malek Bennabi’s vision of democratic governance in Algeria or the Sanusi experience in Libya. It also considers more informal practices – the Ripublik in the Rif or the political system of the Ait ‘Atta, based on egalitarian access to water. It concludes with some observations on the roles these experiences have played in establishing political cultures which informed the outcomes of recent political change in the region.

Post-coloniality and terrorism. France and North Africa before and after Charlie Hebdo
Gabriele Proglio and Paola Rivetti, EUI/UC Berkeley and Dublin City University

The paper aims to revise Lewitsky and Way’s model of democratization by exposing the negative effect that cultural and historical linkage between authoritarian regimes and established democracies may have. This is done through a focus on colonialism and post-colonial relations between European democracies and North African authoritarianisms, and in particular the paper focuses on France and its privileged relationship with North African countries, due to its colonial past. In particular, the paper asks if and how the recent attacks against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo link to that special relationship. The paper tries to disentangle the connection between colonialism, colonial legacy and the emergence of political violence by focusing on two distinctive but interrelated points. First, the effects that French policies, migration/integration policies in particular, have had on sending countries in North Africa and on North African migrants present in France. Secondly, the paper examines the reaction that the French publics have had in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring with the goal of contrasting it against the reaction to Charlie Hebdo attacks. The overarching goal of such a contrast is to highlight the multiple meanings of the slogan ‘liberté’ and its possible connection to post-coloniality. In conclusion, the paper discusses how the legacy of colonialism still impacts on present-day relations between former colonies and colonisers, revising Levitsky and Way’s model which only accounts for the positive effects of close relations between authoritarian and democratic countries with no mention of the negative legacy of colonialism.

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