Spirituality, Resistance and Womanly Leadership in Colonial Algeria

TitleSpirituality, Resistance and Womanly Leadership in Colonial Algeria
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsTouati, Samia
JournalSocieties
Volume8
Issue4
Abstract

Lalla Fatma N’Soumer (1830–1863) is one of the major heroines of Algerian resistance to the French colonial enterprise in the region of Kabylia. Her life and personality have been surrounded by myths and mysteries. Although her name is mentioned in colonial chronicles recording the conquest of Algeria, her exact role in leading a movement of local resistance to the French army doesn’t seem to be very clear. This paper aims at shedding light on this exceptional Berber woman through the analysis of French colonial sources describing these military campaigns—despite their obvious bias—and later secondary sources. This paper focuses on the spiritual dimension which has been somehow overlooked in the existing literature. It precisely describes her family background whereby her ancestry goes back to a marabout lineage affiliated with the Rah. maniyya sufi order. It argues that ¯ her level of education in spiritual and religious matters was probably higher than what had been so far assumed. This article discusses how this spiritual aspect helps explain the tremendous popularity she enjoyed among her people in Kabylia, where she has been considered almost a saint.

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