Spring 2010 Professor Heather J. Sharkey

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University of Pennsylvania

Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

NELC 332/632, AFST 322/533


Spring 2010

Professor Heather J. Sharkey

Class: Mondays, 2-5pm, Williams 3

Office: 835 Williams Hall

Office tel: 215-746-0176

Office hours: Tuesdays, 9:30-11, by appointment

e-mail: hsharkey@sas.upenn.edu

TA: Amanda Hannoosh

e-mail: amanda.hannoosh@gmail.com


This interdisciplinary seminar examines the colonial and postcolonial experiences of North Africa in the context of the region’s close connections to Europe, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Readings will cover Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya as well as their relationships to the history of French, Italian and Spanish colonialism. While the period of sustained European imperial control over North Africa began as early as 1830 in Algeria and as late as 1911-12 in Libya and Morocco, decolonization was almost complete in the region by the early 1960s. Throughout the semester, we will test the thesis that this “colonial moment” had far-reaching implications not only for postcolonial North African societies, but also for the European countries that imposed colonial rule. We will also explore the interconnectedness of economic, political, and cultural phenomena in North African history, e.g., the implications of labor migration for musical culture, and the interplay of religion and language in the construction of national identities. Finally, we will consider the ways in which portrayals of history and culture have been politically charged and hotly contested in both colonial and postcolonial contexts.

Please note the following three points. First, this class is not a survey of North African history but rather concentrates on issues in and approaches to North African studies. It is intended for students who already have some general background in modern Middle Eastern or African history. Second, this class will not cover Egypt, which tends to be closely covered in other Middle Eastern history classes at Penn. Third, undergraduates must register for the course as NELC 332 or AFST 332; graduate students must register for the course as NELC 632 or AFST 533. Undergraduates are not permitted to register under the graduate number.


This class is a reading- and discussion-intensive seminar. Students are expected to participate actively and to prepare occasional presentations on selected readings. Failure to attend classes will result in deductions from the final course grade.

Extensions on papers are not routinely granted. Late papers will be subject to daily five-point penalty deductions. The professor will not accept papers that are more than one week late. These policies apply equally to undergraduate and graduate students.

Writing assignments include three short essays, a final research paper on a topic of the student's choice, and preliminary writings for the final paper (including a proposal and early draft). Graduate students enrolled in the graduate section, as well as undergraduate NELC majors writing concentration papers, should write final papers of approximately 25 pages. Otherwise, undergraduates should write final papers that are 15-17 pages long. At the end of the semester students will also give required presentations to the class on their research. Final papers are due on May 3rd, one week after the last class meets. Please submit the final paper in two forms: a paper copy to be placed in my department mailbox, and an electronic copy, in the form of a Word file, sent by email. When I receive your Word file, I will send an email message to confirm receipt. It is your responsibility to make sure that I receive the paper and that it is not lost in cyberspace.

Throughout the semester we will devote time to discussing practical techniques for planning oral presentations; structuring, writing, and revising essays; and conducting independent research.

There will be no final exam.

Grades will be calculated as follows:

attendance, participation, and oral presentations: 25%

• short essay #1 (book review): 15%

• short essay #2 (book review): 15%

• short essay #3 (archival assignment): 15%

• final paper : 30%

• Failure to attend classes will result in deductions from the final course grade.

• Late papers will be subject to daily five-point penalty deductions.

• Extensions are seldom granted.

• Students are free to eat or drink in class.

• Students may not keep laptops open throughout class. (Listen to discussions attentively and participate; limit your note taking since this is not, after all, a lecture class. Surf on the web or read email before class or during the break.)

• Students must use Chicago-style citations, in footnotes (or endnotes) and bibliographies.
The following required texts are available for purchase at the Penn Book Center, 130 South 34th Street (34th & Sansom), Philadelphia. They are also on reserve in Van Pelt library. I strongly advise you to buy the two books (by Davis and Charrad) that have review assignments associated with them.
• Ben Jelloun, Tahar. French Hospitality: Racism and North African Immigrants, trans. Barbara Bray. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

• Davis, Diana K. Resurrecting the Granary of Rome: Environmental History and French Colonial Expansion in North Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.

• Charrad, Mounira A. States and Women’s Rights: The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

• McMurray, David A. In & Out of Morocco: Smuggling and Migration in a Frontier Boomtown. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

• Ruedy, John. Modern Algeria: The Origins and Development of a Nation. 2nd edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.
Almost all remaining articles and book excerpts are posted on Blackboard; the few exceptions are marked with an asterisk. All books from which excerpts are taken are reserved in Van Pelt library as well.


Week 1, January 25

North Africa in History

• Ali Abdullatif Ahmida (Ed.), “Introduction”, in Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture, Politics (London: Palgrave, 2000), pp. 1-2.

Questions for Discussion:

What/Where is North Africa? How would you define the region and which countries would you include?

What historical forces have shaped the region?

What is colonialism, postcolonialism, Orientalism, and Occidentalism and how are these concepts relevant to our study of North Africa?


Week 2: February 1

Colonial Conquests and the Shift from “Precolonial” to “Colonial” (or “Early Modern”?) North Africa

• Lucette Valensi, On the Eve of Colonialism: North Africa before the French Conquest, Trans. Kenneth J. Perkins (New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1977), pp. vii-xi (translator’s foreword), xix-xxix (introduction), 1-11 (Ch. 1).

•Mahfoud Bennoune, The Making of Contemporary Algeria: Colonial Upheavals and Post-Independence Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 36-41.

•Kenneth J. Perkins, A History of Modern Tunisia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 1-38.

• Chronology, in Ruth Ben-Ghiat & Mia Fuller (Eds.), Italian Colonialism (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), pp. xiv-xviii.

• Map 18, "The Scramble for Africa," in Ieuan Ll. Griffiths, The Atlas of African Affairs, Second edition (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 48-51.

Questions for Discussion:

How were North African societies evolving on the eve of European colonialism? What motives prompted European countries to attempt to seize North African territories and how did patterns of conquest vary? What are the terminologies of colonialism in the region (e.g., occupation, protectorate, condominium)? Were there gradations of colonial dominance?

Week 3: February 8

The Colonial Apex

• John Ruedy, Modern Algeria: The Origins and Development of a Nation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), pp. 45-113.

• Malek Alloula, The Colonial Harem, Trans. Myrna Godzich & Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), pp. ix-xxii (Introduction by Barbara Harlow), and pp. 3-26.

• *Michael Kimmelman, “When a Picture is Worth a Thousand Debates,” The New York Times, June 4, 2009, pp. C1, C5.

Class Discussion: How to Write a Review Essay

Questions for Discussion:

What were the most distinctive and decisive policies of French colonialism in Algeria? What difference did it make that Algeria became a French settler colony whereas, say, Tunisia did not? How would you apply the concept of Orientalism to Malek Alloula’s study of French picture postcards that portrayed North African women?

Week 4: February 15

The Environmental History of North African Colonialism

• Diana K. Davis, Resurrecting the Granary of Rome: Environmental History and French Colonial Expansion in North Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007).

First Short Essay Due: Write a 600-word review of Davis’s book that responds to the following question: How did French colonial authorities perceive the environmental history and condition of North Africa, and with what political and ecological consequences?

Week 5: February 22

Anti-Colonial Nationalism and Algeria’s War for Independence

• Ruedy, Modern Algeria, pp. 114-55 (skim), and 156-94.

• Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Trans. Constance Farrington (New York: Grove Press, 1963), skim early pages and read pp. 201-51 (“Colonial War and Mental Disorders”).

• Nigel C. Gibson, Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination, Key Contemporary Thinkers Series (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003), pp. 1-14 (Introduction), and 84-102 (Ch. 4, “Becoming Algerian”).

• Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, Expanded edition, Intro. Jean-Paul Sartre, Afterword Susan Gilson Miller (Boston: Beacon Press, 1991 [originally published 1957]), pp. vi-xvii (author’s preface), and xxi-xxix (introduction by Sarte).

• Map 20, "The Advance of Independence," in Ieuan Ll. Griffiths, The Atlas of African Affairs, Second edition (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 56-61.

Film excerpts, time permitting: The Battle of Algiers, Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo (1966), DVD, 135 minutes; Le Joli Mai/The Lovely Month of May, Dir. Chris Marker & Pierre L’Homme, VHS (1963); Frantz Fanon, Dir. Isaac Julien, DVD (1995), 50 minutes.

Questions for Discussion:

What are the psychological dimensions of colonialism and its power plays? Who was Frantz Fanon and why is he considered so important for the study of anti-colonial and postcolonial thought? Why was decolonization in Algeria so violent? What was the significance of the Algerian War of Independence for Africa and for the colonized world of the time?


Week 6: March 1

Women and the Nation

• Mounira A. Charrad, States and Women’s Rights: The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).

Second Short Essay Due: In approximately 700 words, discuss Mounira A. Charrad’s States and Women’s Rights. Questions to consider: How did kinship dynamics, Islamic laws, and local customs and politics influence the drafting of postcolonial family law codes? Is the Tunisian legal code more empowering than its Moroccan and Algerian counterparts insofar as women are concerned? What effect did local variations of colonial rule and nationalist organization have on postcolonial policies towards women in the Maghrib?
Spring Break, March 5-14, 2010
Week 7: March 15

Islam and the Nation in Algeria

• Hafid Gafaïti, “The Monotheism of the Other: Language and De/Construction of National Identity in Postcolonial Algeria,” in Anne-Emmanuelle Berger (Ed.), Algeria in Others’ Languages (Cornell: Cornell University Press, 2002), pp. 19-43

• Djamila Saadi-Mokrane, “The Algerian Linguicide,” in Berger (Ed.), Algeria in Others’ Languages, pp. 44-58.

• Luis Martinez, The Algerian Civil War, 1990-98, Trans. Jonathan Derrick (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2000), pp. ix-xiv (preface by John P. Entelis), pp. 245-52 (conclusion).

• Benjamin Stora, Algeria, 1830-2000:A Short History, Trans. Jane Marie Todd (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), pp. vii-ix (foreword by William B. Quandt), xi-xv (preface and acronyms), pp. 231-41 (conclusion), 243-69 (chronology).

In-Class Movie, time permitting: Une femme taxi à Sidi Bel-Abbès (“A Female Cabby in Sidi Bel-Abbes”), Dir. Belkacem Hadjadj, DVD (2000), 52 minutes.

Questions for Discussion:

When historians a century from now look back on North Africa in the late twentieth century, will they regard 1962 as a watershed end or a watershed beginning for cultural conflict in Algeria? Why is official language policy so bitterly contested in Algeria? (Can you think of other countries where language policies are so polarizing in national politics?) What was at stake in the Algerian conflict of the 1990s?

Week 8: March 22

Libya and the Italian Colonial Episode

• David Atkinson, “Constructing Italian Africa: Geography and Geopolitics,” in Ben-Ghiat & Fuller (Eds.), Italian Colonialism, pp. 15-26.

• John L. Wright, “Mussolini, Libya, and the Sword of Islam,” in Ben-Ghiat & Fuller (Eds.), Italian Colonialism, pp. 121-30.

• * Brian L. McLaren, “Modern Architecture, Preservation, and the Discourse on Local Culture in Italian Colonial Libya,” in Modernism and the Middle East: Architecture and Politics in the Twentieth Century, ed. Sandy Isenstadt & Kishwar Rizvi (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008), pp. 61-78.

• Dirk Vandewalle, “Libya’s Revolution Revisited,” MERIP Middle East Report, No. 143 (1986), pp. 30-35, 43. (This article is also available for download through JSTOR.)

For reference:

Fouad C. Debbas, Beirut, Our Memory: A Guided Tour Illustrated with Picture Postcards, Second revised edition (Beirut: César Debbas & Fils, 1986), pp. 5-13.

André Laronde, La Libya à travers les cartes postales, 1900-1940 (Tunis: Alif, 1997).
Archive Assignment Due: Write a 350-word review-style essay interpreting one item in the Italo-Libyan postcard and photographic collection, located in Van Pelt’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. What story does this item tell, or try to tell, about Italian colonialism in Libya? To what audience is the item appealing?
Questions for Discussion:

What were Italy’s colonial ambitions in Africa? More generally, how did North African colonies contribute to the development of European nationalisms? What effect has the oil economy had on Libya’s development as a nation-state?


Week 9: March 29

Migration #1: Smuggling, Migration, Translation: Morocco and Spain

• Elie Goldschmidt, “Storming the Fences: Morocco and Europe’s Anti-Migration Policy,” Middle East Report, Vol. 239, Summer 2006 (Available at: http://www.merip.org/mer/mer239/goldschmidt.html)

• David A. McMurray, In & Out of Morocco: Smuggling and Migration in a Frontier Boomtown (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001).

• Lara N. Dotson-Renta, “Translated Identities: Writing between Morocco and Spain,” The Journal of North African Studies, 13:4 (2008), pp. 429-39. (Do a journal search in Franklin and connect to IngentaWorld to download a PDF copy. Note that Lara Dotson-Renta is a Romance Languages PhD candidate at Penn who wrote an earlier version of this article for this class in 2007.)

Final Paper Proposal Due: This proposal has two parts. (1) Submit a one-page abstract of your final paper topic, describing what you intend to study and what preliminary hypothesis you have. (2) Submit a bibliography listing at least six relevant published books or academic articles – not internet sources.

Questions for Discussion:

What major patterns of migration have prevailed in North Africa since approximately 1800? (Consider ethnic, gender-based, socio-economic, and profession-based trends.) What is the relationship between the migration of people and the migration of goods? Where and how do Morocco and Spain intersect today, and where have they done so historically?

Week 10: April 5

Migration #2: North Africans in/and France

• Tahar Ben Jelloun, French Hospitality: Racism and North African Immigrants, trans. Barbara Bray (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).

• Neil MacMaster, “Islamophobia in France and the ‘Algerian Problem’” in The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy, Ed. Emran Qureshi & Michael A. Sells (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), pp. 288-313.

• * Jane E. Goodman, Berber Culture on the World Stage (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), pp. 1-25.

• * Amanda El Dakhakhni, “Beur Literature: Defining Cultural Identity in a Space between Two Worlds,” Sound Politicks, 14:2 (Spring 2008), pp. 32-40. (This is Amanda’s revised paper for NELC 332 in 2007. As of January 2010, Amanda is a White House intern responsible to Vice President Joseph Biden. It is accessible at: http://www.polisci.upenn.edu/PiSigma/soundpoliticks/Spring2008SoundPoliticks.pdf)

Film (time permitting): La Haine, Dr. Mathieu Kassovitz, DVD (1995), 97 minutes.
Sign up for final presentations

Questions for Discussion:

To what extent is migration to Europe a legacy of colonialism? What are the sources of Islamophobia and racism in France; what is the “Algerian Problem” to which MacMaster alludes? How have North Africans transformed French culture? How reciprocal was the colonial encounter?

Week 11: April 12

Looking Back: Colonialism Past and Present

• David Seddon, “Dreams and Disappointments: Postcolonial Constructions of ‘The Maghrib’”, in Ali Abdullatif Ahmida (Ed.), Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture, Politics (London: Palgrave, 2000), pp. 197-231.

• Eva Evers Rosander, Women in a Borderland: Managing Muslim Identity Where Morocco Meets Spain (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1991), pp. 22-47.

• *John Joseph Henry Rossetti, “Christian Marabout, Soldier Monk: Charles de Foucauld between the French and the Tuareg,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 19:4 (2008), pp. 381-96. (Do a search in EBSCO to access the PDF version of this article. Note that Chip Rossetti is a NELC PhD candidate at Penn who wrote an earlier version of this article for this class in 2007.)

• *Matthew Saltmarsh, “Colonial Soldiers Want More from France,” The New York Times, August 12, 2009.

Film: The Way North, Dir. Shara K. Lange, DVD (2008), 59 minutes.
Preliminary Draft of Final Paper Due: Submit the introductory section of your paper (approx. two pages). Make sure you have an argument! This introduction should provide an overview of your topic, explain the structure of your paper, and point to your general thesis. I suggest that you also include a roadmap paragraph explaining what the structure of your paper will be and what sources you will use. The introduction is often the most difficult part of a paper to write, so it is critical that you give yourself the opportunity to get feedback before revision.

Questions for Discussion:Is colonialism in North Africa a thing of the past, or do vestiges of colonialism persist (e.g., in Spain’s enclaves in Morocco, and in Morocco’s interest in Western Sahara)? Is the Maghrib a coherent region, and where does Libya fit? Mulling over what we’ve studied this semester, would you say that North Africa as a whole exhibits any particular regional coherence? What are the postcolonial dreams and disappointments to which David Seddon refers in his title?


Week 12: April 19

••• Final paper presentations
Week 13: April 26

••• Final paper presentations


North Africa: History, Culture, Society

Spring 2010

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