Social Currents in North Africa

Culture and Governance after the Arab Spring

May 2018 9781849048279 256pp


Social Currents in North Africa is a multi-disciplinary analysis of the social phenomena unfolding in the Maghreb today. The contributors analyse the genealogies of contemporary North African behavioral and ideological norms, and offer insights into post-Arab Spring governance and today’s social and political trends.

The book situates regional developments within broader international currents, without forgoing the distinct features of each socio-historical context. With its common historical, cultural, and socio-economic foundations, the Maghreb is a cohesive area of study that allows for greater understanding of domestic developments from both single-country and comparative perspectives.  This volume refines the geo-historical unity of the Maghreb by accounting for social connections, both within the nation-state and across political boundaries and historical eras. It illustrates that non-institutional phenomena are equally formative to the ongoing project of post-colonial sovereignty, to social construction and deployments of state power, and to local outlooks on social equity, economic prospects, and cultural identity.

Table of contents

  1. Social Currents in North Africa

Osama Abi-Mershed

  1. Islamist Parties and Transformation in Tunisia and Morocco

Francesco Cavatorta and Fabio Merone

  1. Sufism and Salafism in the Maghreb:
    Political Implications

Ricardo René Larémont

  1. Labor Protest in Morocco:
    Strikes, Concessions, and the Arab Spring

Matt Buehler

  1. The Amazigh Movement in a Changing North Africa

Paul A. Silverstein

  1. Thou Shalt Not Speak One Language: Self, Skill, and Politics in post-Arab Spring Morocco

Charis Boutieri

  1. The Politics of the Haratins Social Movement in Mauritania (1978-2014)

Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem

  1. Keeping up with the times:
    the growth of support from non-state actors for the Polisario Liberation Movement

Alice Wilson

  1. Film and Cultural Dissent in Tunisia

Nouri Gana

  1. “Curating the Mellah”: Cultural Conservation, Jewish Heritage Tourism and Normalization Debates in Morocco and Tunisia, 1960s-Present

Aomar Boum


‘Osama Abi-Mershed has pulled together a comprehensive and insightful edited volume that covers several important aspects of Maghrebi political and social currents. Ranging across several countries and topics, but with a focus on social currents in the region, this volume is testimony to the emergence of a new, younger generation of North Africa scholars that promise to provide new and continuing insights into a region of the world that is not usually the subject of sustained inquiries.’ —  Dirk Vandewalle, Associate Professor of Government, Dartmouth University, and author of A History of Modern Libya

‘Given the trauma and turbulence experienced in recent years by North African peoples, societies, and polities, Social Currents in North Africa is a breath of fresh air. Rather than viewing the region as a hotbed of dysfunction and disintegration, as the media would have it, this book provides an insightful and empathetic cross-disciplinary comparative study by a distinguished group of scholars and keen observers. Both serious and lay students of the subject will find this book deeply informative and rewarding.’ — John P. Entelis, Professor of Political Science, Fordham University

‘This excellent book covers salient issues about the Maghreb, which academics have hitherto overlooked, covering such questions as the transformation of the Islamist parties in the region, the Amazigh movement, non-state actors support for the Western Saharan nationalist movement, or Jewish heritage tourism in Morocco and Tunisia. A welcome addition to the literature, I strongly recommend it.’ — Yahia H. Zoubir, Professor of International Relations, KEDGE Business School, France


Osama Abi-Mershed is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. His most recent publications include Apostles of Modernity: Saint-Simonians and the French Civilizing Mission in Algeria (2010), and the edited volume Trajectories of Education in the Arab World: Legacies and Challenges (2010).

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