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Colonial Legitimization-Legibility Linkages and the Politics of Identity in Algeria and Morocco

  • Jonathan Wyrtzen (a1)

Abstract

Scholarship on the modern state’s symbolic and social infrastructural power typically correlates high state capacity to practices of standardization, homogenization, and integration. Less attention has focused on how this power can be directed towards differentiation and heterogenization, as amply demonstrated in the case of empire. This article develops a framework for analyzing how infrastructural power is employed by modern colonial states and how it impacts society. It argues that formal legitimization structures defined for colonial subunits influence legibility practices enacted within them—what is named and counted and how it is named and counted—and that these legitimization-legibility linkages are significant because they politicize particular boundaries of collective identity in lasting ways within the subjugated society. This model is used to analyze variation within French North Africa between a colony-type linkage in Algeria and a protectorate-type linkage in Morocco, and account for the divergent identity politics and claims-making strategies that emerged within these units. The conclusion considers the broader comparative implications of legitimization-legibility combinations in formerly colonized political units.

Les travaux consacrés à la puissance infrastructurelle, sociale et symbolique, de l’Etat moderne soulignent de façon récurrente un lien entre un Etat fort et des pratiques de standardisation, d’homogénéisation et d’intégration. Mais peu d’attention a porté sur comment cette puissance produisait de la différenciation et de l’hétérogénéité, ce que l’étude des empires a largement permis d’illustrer. Cet article propose un cadre pour analyser la manière dont cette puissance infrastructurelle est utilisée par les Etats coloniaux modernes et rendre compte de son impact sur la société. Il soutient non seulement que les structures de légitimation formelles définies pour les sous-unités coloniales influent sur les « pratiques de lisibilité » qu’elles adoptent, autrement dit ce qui est nommé et décompté et la manière dont ces opérations sont accomplies. Mais également que ces liaisons « légitimation-lisibilité » sont importantes parce qu’elles politisent de façon durable, à l’intérieur de la société assujettie, certaines frontières de l’identité collective. Pour le cas de l’ex Afrique du nord française, ce modèle permet d’analyser les variations entre une liaison de type colonie en Algérie et une liaison de type protectorat au Maroc et rendre compte des divergences de politique comme de stratégie de revendication identitaire au sein de ces unités. La conclusion ouvre une réflexion sur les implications comparatives plus larges des combinaisons de légitimation et de lisibilité pour les anciennes colonies.

Für Wissenschaften, die sich mit moderner Staatssymbolik und sozialer, infrastruktureller Macht auseinandersetzten, besteht typischerweise eine Wechselbeziehung zwischen einem starkem Staat und Praktiken der Standardisierung, Homogenisierung und Integration. Weniger Aufmerksamkeit wird der Frage geschenkt, wie diese Macht zur Differenzierung und Hetergeniesierung genutzt werden kann, ganz typisch für Imperien. Der hier entwickelte Interpretationsrahmen verdeutlicht, auf welche Art und Weise die infrastrukturelle Staatsmacht in modernen Kolonialstaaten genutzt wird und wie sie sich auf die Gesellschaft auswirkt. So beeinflussen nicht nur formale, für koloniale Untereinheiten definierte Legitimierungsstrukturen die Lesbarkeit der verfügten Praktiken, d.h. was benannt und gezählt wird und wie etwas benannt und gezählt werden kann, sondern auch die Koppelung „Legitimierung-Lesbarkeit” spielt eine bedeutende Rolle, da sie innerhalb der unterworfenen Gesellschaft die Grenzen der kollektiven Identität langfristig politisiert. Angewandt auf das ehemalige Französisch-Nordafrika erlaubt dieses Modell, die Abweichungen zwischen einer Verbindung in Form einer Kolonie im Falle Algeriens und jener eines Protektorats im Falle Marokkos zu untersuchen und die voneinander abweichenden politische, Identitäten und Einforderungsstrategien nachzuweisen. Die Schlussfolgerung interessiert sich für weitere komparative Konsequenzen der Kombinierungsmöglichkeiten „Legitimierung-Lesbarkeit” in ehemaligen Kolonien.

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Keywords

Colonial Legitimization-Legibility Linkages and the Politics of Identity in Algeria and Morocco

  • Jonathan Wyrtzen (a1)

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