Algeria, Kabylia, politics, wilaya

Document Type



This article is an extract (with an expanded introduction and conclusion) from chapter 6, ‘Local politics and regional trends’, of the thesis, Political Development in Algeria: the region of Greater Kabylia, that I submitted for the degree of D.Phil at Oxford University in April 1980. Since I found no British publisher for my thesis (most had never heard of Kabylia in those days), it has not been published, and I am grateful to the Journal of Amazigh Studies for its willingness to make this work available to its readers. The whole of chapter 6 of my thesis and much of chapter 5 were based on field work that I carried out in Greater Kabylia during my stay in Bouïra in 1973-4 and over the summer vacations of 1975 and 1976. The argument of this article is based on data obtained during my research in the communes of Aïn el-Hammam, Beni Yenni and, above all, Tassaft, in the course of which I visited the villages of Agouni Ahmed, Taourirt Mimoun, Tigzirt, Ath Mislayen, Tassaft Ouguemoun, Darna and especially Ath Waaban (repeatedly). My observations concerning the traditional political institutions of the society of the Jurjura—notably the nature and role of the ṣfūf — would form the basis of my radical critique of the theories of Ernest Gellner and Pierre Bourdieu that constitutes the point of departure of my book Berber Government.