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Title: The teaching of Amazigh in France and Morocco : language policies and citizenship between pedagogy and power politics
Other Titles: Education and the Arab 'world' : political projects, struggles, and geometries of power
Authors: Mabrour, Abdelouahad
Mgharfaoui, Khalil
Keywords: Berber languages -- Study and teaching -- France
Berber languages -- Study and teaching -- Morocco
Language policy
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Routledge
Citation: Mabrour, A., & Mgharfaoui, K. (2010). The teaching of Amazigh in France and Morocco : language policies and citizenship between pedagogy and power politics. In A. E. Mazawi & R. G. Sultana (Eds.), Education and the Arab 'world' : political projects, struggles, and geometries of power (pp. 214-225). New York: Routledge.
Abstract: In any bilingual or multilingual context, policy makers are called upon to manage the ensuing political, social and institutional tensions. They thus have to consider the nature, status and function of these languages, the co-existence of language varieties, the type of contact between the different languages, their relationship to internal and external dimensions of identity, and the part they play in giving access to information. They are also faced with different institutional arrangements (legislation, policies, recommendations, and circulars) or practices (imposed by usage) undertaken on a daily basis in the areas of administration, economy, education, media and the construction of the public space. In this chapter, we will investigate the sociolinguistic situation of the Amazigh (‘Berber’) language in the Maghreb, especially in Morocco and Algeria. It appears that the teaching of the Amazigh language does not merely respond to didactic needs. Rather, the decision to teach this language, as well as its legitimacy in the public arena through its introduction in the media, cannot be disconnected from its political and cultural dimensions. It is well known that what leads to linguistic and ‘ethnic’ conflicts is the idea that the central government, namely, the State, serves only the interests of the dominant group by imposing a unifying policy based on the assumption that a nation must speak exclusively one language in order to ensure its survival. This ideological position defines the social space made available for languages and their identity correlates. This position also impacts the viability of democratic arrangements in a pluralist and multicultural society. Contrary to the situation in the Maghreb, where the Amazigh language is perceived as competing with the primacy of the national language, Arabic; in France, where the Amazigh language is also present, one would expect things to be different. The teaching of this language, spoken by quite a large minority of French of Maghrebi descent, should benefit from the democratic environment supported by the recognition of linguistic diversity. Theoretically, the Amazigh language does not face the question of legitimacy in France, as it does in the Maghreb, because it does not compete with a national language as a symbol of identity. However, despite the apparent dissimilarity between the situation of Amazigh in France and the Maghreb, the promotion of the language will only be successful if the question of its legitimacy is considered, not from the point of view of the nation-state but from that of citizenship. In this chapter, we investigate two institutions dedicated to the teaching of the Amazigh language: The National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) in France and the Royal Institute for Amazigh Culture (IRCAM) in Morocco. The relevance of both institutions for this chapter lies in the fact that, while they both share the same objective, they differ on several points given the specific geopolitical space in which they operate. In the French case, this involves policies and practices that relate primarily to the teaching and learning of the Amazigh language and research carried out on it. In the Maghreb case, the introduction of the Amazigh language is part of an ongoing language development course, endorsed by institutional and operational measures aiming to support the position of this language in the linguistic market, both in the education sector (teaching) and the broader national linguistic landscape (media). In this chapter we suggest that the introduction of the Amazigh language in the linguistic landscapes of France and Morocco is related to political reasons, and in particular to the legitimacy and location granted to the different ‘Other’ within an imagined conception of the nation. The role of education in mediating language policies in this context is fundamental. The accommodation of the Amazigh language into the educational systems of France and Morocco serves as an illustration of these processes.
ISBN: 9780415800341
Appears in Collections:Education and the Arab 'world' : political projects, struggles, and geometries of power

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