Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Anne-Hélène Miller

Committee Members

Matthew Brauer, Mary McAlpin


This thesis considers how certain Maghrebi authors have rewritten the distant precolonial past and medieval history in their works as a way to challenge the repressive national narratives that proliferated in 1980s and 1990s Morocco and Algeria. These repressive narratives emerged in Morocco with the authoritarian reign of Hassan II from 1961 until his death in 1999, and in Algeria as a result of one-party state in Algeria, the politics of Arabization, and a period of fundamentalist Islamism from the 1990s to the early 2000s. In Algeria in particular, the politics during the décennie noire led to the persecution and assassination of intellectuals, including those advocating for political and linguistic recognition of the indigenous Amazigh. The authors considered in this thesis, Driss Chraïbi, Tahar Djaout, and Assia Djebar resituate the indigenous Amazigh as essential to understanding the history of the Maghreb—its ancient past, its experience of colonial repression, and its present situation. In this way, I suggest that these authors write “counter-histories,” adapting the term from Michel Foucault’s lectures at the College de France. Rather than focus on the colonial and postcolonial contexts which have been central to postcolonial criticism, this thesis makes a new contribution by studying the representation of the distant precolonial past in Maghrebi literature. Rewriting the precolonial past provides Maghrebi authors possibilities for narrating the rich and diverse history of the Maghreb and for creating a different vision of collective identity.

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