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Negotiating National Identity in North Africa

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image of International Negotiation

The development of a polity can be explained by studying the emergence of national identity, not only as the product of conscious elite actions but as the outcome of negotiations (or lack thereof) between opposing visions within elite groups at the national movement stage and at subsequent key historical moments. Polities where effective broadbased negotiations on national identity values and beliefs were conducted among competing elites tend to enjoy a greater degree of medium to long term stability, while those emerging states where negotiations were not conducted and only one identity vision was imposed tend to suffer from identity and political crises in the course of their political development. Morocco and Algeria present two opposing cases: the former, in which broadbased inter-elite negotiations led to a definition of national identity that became widely shared by the population at large, and the latter, where the lack of such negotiations and the violent outcome of the civil war led to the imposition of only one identity vision and to the subsequent identity crisis that has plagued the country since the early 1980s.

Affiliations: 1: John Cabot University, Via della Lungara, 233 00165 Rome, Italy (E-mail:


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