Imazighen of France: Developing Indigeneity in Diaspora

Jonathan Harris, Nacira Abrous

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines how the Amazigh (pl. Imazighen) diaspora in France is developing forms of solidarity and citizenship within and beyond the state, partly through articulations of Indigenous identity. France is home to a large Amazigh diaspora; hundreds of organizations group together hundreds of thousands of individuals who are united by a common interest in the preservation and promotion of Amazighité, that is, the quality of being Amazigh. Indigenous to North Africa (Tamazgha) and distinct from Arabic, Amazigh language (Tamazight) and culture have long been minoritized by state policies dating from the colonial period and accelerated in the post-colonial era. These policies have privileged Arabic as the language of administration, education, literature and media as well as religion, and coded Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian and Libyan national identities as exclusively ‘Arabic’ until very recently. The areas where Amazigh culture and identity have remained alive are typically underdeveloped, remote and mountainous regions in North Africa as well as in the sizable European diaspora, where Amazigh associations and activists openly champion Amazigh language, culture, heritage and, more recently, territorial rights. Due to its connectedness, access to resources, and the presence of several exiled leaders, the diaspora has long been a dynamic influence within the Amazigh movement, and a key contributor to regional development (Aïtel 2013). This contribution is most often informally undertaken, in ways that bypass state structures, particularly in the region of Kabylia. Articulating indigeneity as Imazighen, we will argue, diaspora leaders challenge and subvert the Jacobin, state-led notions of development and sustainability that occlude or marginalize Amazigh identity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Development
EditorsKatharina Ruckstuhl, Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj, John-Andrew McNeish, Nancy Postero
ISBN (Electronic)9781003153085
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022


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