Violence against women in Algeria in the 1990s: narratives, translations, and languages 

The research proposes a close reading into the ways narratives and translations (in its broadest) frame discourses on rape at war time in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, with an emphasis on Algeria. 

To date, what is well known is the literature on Algerian women war veterans of the Algerian Revolution (1954-1962) through the cultural production in French, Arabic and English in various disciplines.  What is less known are the narratives and translations about rape in Algeria during the 1990s, where the perpetrator is the Algerian (Fundamentalist/Islamist) and women are framed as ‘prostitutes’.  These lesser-known narratives started to re-appear in a fragmented way, not contributing to accrual of the shared/collective ‘master plot’ on women’s role in both wars; liberation and civil war.  The research compare the two narratives and translations of the two wars (liberation 1954-1962 vs. civil war in the 1990s) to demonstrate how discourse(s) are (re)framed through a close analysis of language (formal and informal) genres.

violence-against-womenPhoto by: Mr. Mohamed  Amine Bisker

Algeria, known as the country of the three Djamilas, an Arabic female name, meaning the ‘beautiful’ referring to (Djamila Bouheird, Djamila Boupasha and Djamila Bouazza), standing for the fighting against the coloniser during the liberation war (1954-1962).  This symbol has been used and abused in the Arab culture, nevertheless, present in the collective cultural memory, particularly the Algerian one.  The medium (language) used to (re)translate and frame those narratives were in French or in Standard Arabic, provoking debates such as, the inclusion/exclusion of the Djamilas who had French education and knew only French and Algerian dialect, particularly, with the Arabicisation Movement in the 1970s.  In contrast, survivors of the 1990s represent a phase of the Algerian history in danger of being forgotten because of the 2005 Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation (CNPR).  The latter has been heavily criticised by survivors and their families and human rights activists for promoting amnesia and impunity and rewarding violence against the state.   The project’s activities include collecting testimonies of survivors as a way of combatting the state’s efforts to promote amnesia.

Project Team: Dr. Anissa Daoudi 

Project funded by: A Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2018-19).The Leverhulme Trust logo






External Resources

Sexual violence in wartime Facebook page 

Outcomes and Links to Material

International Conference: Narrating and Translating Rape in Wartime in the MENA Region: the Role of Language. 

Book: a monograph on Narratives and Translations of violence against women in Algeria in the Civil War 1990

Writing Workshop: in collaboration with Djazairouna Association (NGO), the University of Birmingham and the Leverhulme Trust, a workshop was organised by Dr. Daoudi on the 1st November 2017, Blida, Algeria. 

Download the pdf brochure

Documentary Film: Original Testimonies of Algerian Women against Amnesia

Digital Archive: Building of a digital archive of Algerian Women’s testimonies

Open Democracy: Commemoration and counter-memory of the Algerian liberation and civil war: calls for an inclusive approach

Media Coverage: BBC Arabic Interview Link