Immunity to the Arab Spring? Fear, Fatigue and Fragmentation in Algeria

Edward McAllister

Abstract


Rather than asking why the Arab Spring has not spread to Algeria, a question that necessitates a comparative approach, this paper will argue that the localised protests that have become a familiar feature of Algerian life for over half a decade respond to Algerian dynamics and have continued to do so in the wake of the Arab Spring. As part of an on-going research project, this paper will use social memory to explore the contradictory nature of Algeria’s past-present relationship, by looking at experiences which at once define what Algerians expect from the state and demobilise energies for collective change. The paper will argue that the fragmented nature of narratives about the past, as well as related generational divides, are factors that have inhibited the growth of cohesive movements demanding political change. In addition, the paper will look critically at assumptions that fears of a return to the violent 1990s are defining reticence toward revolution in Algeria, and will suggest that the riots of October 1988 provide a more useful reference point for understanding the clear lack of enthusiasm for a home-grown Arab Spring.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/nmes.v3i0.2645

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