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Du mythe de l'isolat kabyle (On the Myth of the Kabyle Cultural Island)

Nedjma Abdelfettah Lalmi
Cahiers d'Études Africaines
Vol. 44, Cahier 175 (2004), pp. 507-531
Published by: EHESS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4393405
Page Count: 25
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Du mythe de l'isolat kabyle (On the Myth of the Kabyle Cultural Island)
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Abstract

Ce que Charles-Robert Ageron a appelé le "mythe kabyle" n'a pas inventé la singularité kabyle. Il s'en est saisi et l'a fortement réinterprétée. Les besoins idéologiques avérés de la colonisation française ne sont pas seuls en cause. Les "spécialistes" de la Kabylie ont utilisé les grilles de lecture dominantes au XIXe siècle, qui regardaient les pays de montagne européens ou autres comme des isolats coupés des voies de la grande Histoire. Entre instrumentalisation consciente et sorte d'ingénuité, les éléments confortant ce modèle ont fait corps et se sont constitués en savoir clos et indiscutable. L'idée-force de ce savoir est que la Kabylie, demeurée sans liens avec les États et les cités, s'est organisée en univers autonome et fermé depuis des temps immémoriaux. Tout effort d'historicisation semble alors vain, particulièrement pour les périodes antérieures à la régence ottomane. Cette vision de la Kabylie est confortée par les études sur les villes souvent envisagées en rupture avec leurs arrière-pays, comme des implants d'origine toujours allochtone, image dans laquelle " l'idéologie citadine ", qui se refuse à tout lien avec l'autochtonie, la fait refluer vers le monde rural, surtout montagnard. Partant d'une interrogation sur l'inscription territoriale de la Kabylie dans une histoire de la longue durée, nous essayons de montrer que les découpages motivés idéologiquement dans le passé et dans le présent, ou résultant des effets pervers de démarches savantes visant à isoler leur objet dans sa pureté maximale, ont rendu illisible le processus historique de sa formation. /// What Charles-Robert Ageron called the "Kabyle myth" did not invent but significantly reinterpreted the peculiarity of the Kabyle. The ideological needs of French colonization in Algeria were not the only factor involved in this. The specialists of Kabylia used available grids of interpretation, which made them see mountainous areas in Europe or elsewhere as cultural islands far from the highways of world history. The points sustaining this model formed a closed corpus of knowledge taken to be obvious. The major idea in this corpus was that Kabylia had no relations with states and cities and was organized as an autonomous, closed unit for centuries on end. As a consequence, any attempt to write a history of this region's place during what Gautier called the "obscure centuries" (the period prior to Ottoman rule) was in vain. This vision of Kabylia received backing from studies that usually saw North African cities as being cut off from the hinterland, as foreign implants. In this image, the "city-dwellers' ideology" refused any relations with native cultures and pushed them back into rural, mountainous areas. As an inquiry into Kabylia's place in a long-term history shows, the divisions that various groups in the past and present made for ideological reasons or that intellectual procedures deviously made by isolating the subject of inquiry in its maximal purity (the Kabyle mountains, the North African city) all overlook the relations between Kabylia and coastal cities during the Middle Ages. They thus make it impossible to understand this zone's formation in history. Studying Kabylia and cities in a long process of historical contacts, including strife, unexpectedly sets this region's fundamental characteristics in a new light.

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