Political imagination and the struggle for power : Algerian Islamism as a case study
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This dissertation is concerned with the case study of Algerian political Islam in the contemporary era. The central research question addressed here is two fold. First, the question of whether political Islam constitutes a radical ideological break with the Algerian political ljfeworld is asked. The political imagination of Algerian Islamism is analysed in its historical and political contexts to unearth areas of rupture with dominant forms of political imagination, but areas of hybridity and of complicity with such formations are also highlighted. Thus, the main contention of this thesis is that the discursive relationship between Islamist political formation and that of their opponents in the political sphere is complex: Islamist political imagination is oppositional to the state, but it does not escape the discursive tools for legitimation present in the existing ljfeworld. Secondly, the consequences of this argument for our understanding of the Algerian Civil War of the 199os are addressed. It is argued here that political imagination is one of the key loci where political contest has been played out in the contemporary Algerian setting. The confrontation between the regime and political Islam is the most up to date example of a struggle for power that necessitates the monopoly over the legitimising tools of history and culture. More importantly, this framework questions the notion that the state-Islamist confrontation in subsequent years can be explained in a binary fashion (Good vs. Evil; Rational politics vs. Irrational theocracy). In fact, this confrontation over political power is consistent with existing patterns of political competition in postcolonial Algeria.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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