[P4800] (Trans)nationalisms and the Left in the Greater Maghrib, 1910-1970

Created by Christopher Rominger
Sunday, 11/19/17 3:30pm


The Maghrib's many cosmopolitan cities, diverse settler populations, and active border zones have made it an appealing subject of the recent turn to transnational and migration histories. This panel, inspired by such interests, explores the ambiguous position of leftist ideologies and workers' movements in colonial and postcolonial Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt across the 20th century. We focus in particular on the border-crossing relationships central to the evolution of communist and socialist groups and ideologies. This panel raises a number of questions, among them: what was the role of ethnic and religious minorities in creating transnational leftist movements? How did ethno-centric nationalist movements incorporate or marginalize such movements? And beyond looking simply at North-South relationships between Europe and the Arab world, what prospects did leftist movements offer for political cooperation both across the Maghrib and with the Mashriq?

To address these questions and others, this panel's participants draw upon union and corporate archives, diplomatic records, colonial police documents, and the popular press. The first paper charts the convergence and subsequent divergence of the socialist and communist movements in Tunisia in the 1920s, demonstrating the shifting role of Tunisian Jews and French and Italian settlers in the early national movement. The second paper examines how the tension between French planning (la planification française) and Algerian socialism (with its Greek, Polish, and Hungarian consultants) intersected with global ideological struggles during the Cold War. The third paper explores the relationship between communism and Tunisian nationalism in the Gafsa phosphate mines, showing how Gafsa's Maghribi and European workers' political engagement in the 1940s-60s played a decisive role in the ensuing dominance of the Union générale tunisienne du travail (UGTT). The fourth paper shows how transnational intellectuals and minorities in Egypt, including Jews, Armenians, Greeks, and Russians, helped adapt ideologies of nationalism and socialism in the 1940s and 50s, paving the way for Nasser's social and political revolution. The panel as a whole reveals the importance of contentious moments of transnational exchange linked with communism, socialism, and workers movements in the 20th century, both within North Africa and across the Arab world.


American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS)





Joel Gordon

(University of Arkansas)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Muriam Haleh Davis

(UC Santa Cruz)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Alma Heckman

(UC Santa Cruz)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Rami Ginat

(Bar Ilan University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Christopher Rominger

(CUNY Graduate Center)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Rebecca Gruskin

(Stanford University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;