The Making of Tamazgha in France: Territorialities of an Amazigh Diaspora-Assemblage

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Abstract

This article uses an account of the Amazigh/Berber (pl. Imazighen) diaspora in France to demonstrate how approaching diaspora using assemblage thinking can help us to understand its emergent territorialities. It argues that the discourses and practices of association members frame the spaces of ‘Tamazgha’ (the ‘land of the Imazighen’), at the same time as framing the internal and external boundaries of the diaspora itself. Using assemblage thinking alongside theoretical tools from social movement theory and the study of nationalism, this article underlines how the diaspora comes into being through emergent relationships between human and non-human actors. Drawing on recent fieldwork, it outlines how ideas of Amazigh nationhood have developed and continue to develop in the process of this diaspora-assemblage, rather than simply arising from either a putative traditional ‘homeland’, state institutions, or being the invention of a purely intellectual or political project. Beginning with the ideal of a unified pan-Amazigh imaginative geography of ‘Tamazgha’, the Amazigh diaspora’s territorialities are now becoming more fragmented and regionally specific. As the Amazigh diaspora-assemblage develops within wider geopolitical assemblages, its new nationalisms not only challenge the existing state-territory configuration in North Africa, but also signal a changing sense of group identity for diaspora Imazighen themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalGeopolitics
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022

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