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Title: Tamazgha in France : indigeneity and citizenship in the diasporic Amazigh movement
Author: Harris, Jonathan Anthony
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines how the Amazigh diaspora, networked in France's Amazigh cultural associations, village committees and political movements, constructs an imaginative geography of North Africa, which they call Tamazgha, and the implications this has for this emergent and diverse group. It sets out to theorise and understand the political geographies of this diasporic social movement in the contemporary moment. It does so by approaching the Amazigh diaspora as its primary object of research within a relational, multiscalar analysis of its geopolitics. This thesis contributes to the subdiscipline of political geography as well as Amazigh studies. Drawing on ethnographic and documentary methods, including an experimental methodology for the digital sphere, it outlines the major themes of the diasporic Amazigh movement's relationship to space and place; making the diaspora, articulating indigeneity, negotiating citizenship and accommodating nativism. It analyses facets of Amazigh diaspora politics at times as a nation, at others as a social movement, finding a productive interaction between these two concepts. It is both an imagined community of people who claim to share a common language and culture and a political movement entraining activists, members and political parties in the pursuit of political change. As an Indigenous people, it is both a transnational social movement calling on the states where they live to uphold the rights of their Amazigh populations, and also a nation with a flag, asserting its claim to sovereignty, however limited. The diaspora associations frame themselves as a social movement championing diverse citizenship and integration in French society, whilst homeland-oriented citizenship is mostly expressed in nationalistic terms. This thesis charts how the politics of this diasporic Amazigh movement contest and produce spatial imaginations in the contemporary context of Mediterranean integration, new nationalisms and populisms, and the fear of Islamist terrorism in French society. With its focus on the political and imaginative geographies of the diasporic Amazigh movement, the thesis is organised topically, elaborating on different facets of political subjectivities in four substantive chapters that focus on the core themes of diaspora, indigeneity, citizenship and nativism. Chapter 2 provides an historical and sociological context for the study, and Chapter 3 details its methodology. Chapter 4 examines diaspora as a geopolitical concept, understood on the one hand as like a social movement and on the other as like a nation. It presents an understanding of diaspora 'as process' or 'assemblage' that constantly reworks the boundaries of nation, state, community and identity, within an imaginative geography of 'home'. Chapter 5 picks up from here to focus on how indigeneity is articulated as a political positioning in the diasporic Amazigh movement. Drawing on Stuart Hall's terminology to theorise the politics of indigeneity in relation to place, it outlines several Indigenous articulations made in the discourse and practices of the leaders and members of diasporic Amazigh associations. Chapter 6 focuses on the discourses and practices of citizenship, which in the diaspora intersect, overlap and produce transnational spaces. Drawing out an empirical distinction between 'diaspora-oriented' and 'homeland-oriented' citizenships, the chapter details how citizenship practices in relation to French state and society can be understood as 'ordinary' whilst those in relation to North African state(s) and society are characterised more as performative 'Acts'. Finally, chapter 7 homes in on Amazigh politics in the current context of increasingly influential nativist-populism in France and across Europe.
Supervisor: Radcliffe, Sarah A. Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Diaspora ; Popular Geopolitics ; Indigeneity ; Amazigh ; France ; Transnationalism ; Performativity ; Diaspora Diplomacy