Imperial Identities

by Lorcin, Patricia M. E.

This account of Algerian history explores the process through which ethnic categories and cultural distinctions were developed and used as instruments of social control in a colonial society. Lorcin examines the circumstances which gave rise to, and the influences which shaped, the colonial images of “good” Kabyle and “bad” Arab (usually referred to as the Kabyle Myth) in Algeria. She demonstrates how these images were used to negate the underlying beliefs and values of the dominated society and to impose French cultural, social and political values. The evolution of ethnic categories over time is also traced, and Lorcin reveals their inherently unstable nature and the continual process of redefinition, in accordance with circumstance and political or social expediency.