Youth and activism in Algeria. The question of political generations.
Refereed Article, 2021
Hadj-Moussa, R. (2021). Youth and activism in Algeria. The question of political generations. The Journal of North African Studies, 26(2), 311–336.
Many youth movements have formed in Algeria in the years since the demonstrations of October 1988, despite the interruption of the democratic process in 1992 and the ten years of civil war and stagnant political life that followed. These young people’s actions oblige us to examine their actions, act by act, to understand their structural ambiguities, which, contrary to all expectations, turn out to constitute a source of strength. In this article I examine the forms of youth activism in Algeria, drawing on four case studies: activists from opposition political parties in the Mzab region; a national coordinating section of the movement for the unemployed in the city of Ouargla; the Rally for Action and Youth (RAJ) in Algiers; and a sample of Internet ‘activists’ whose practices are a response to the lockdown and stagnation of ‘traditional’ political space. My approach is inspired by research on spaces seen as ‘non-political’ and the transformative actions taken in their public spheres. I propose that we should pay attention to undefined and unpredictable actions, in order to avoid teleological overinterpretation and determinist formulation. At the same time, I aim to understand how the demands made by actors involved in these movements are linked to context, conceptions of history, historical events, and the production of successive political generations.