Algerian Culture Essay Generations

The culture of Algeria encompasses literature, music, religion, cuisine and other facets of the Algerian lifestyle.


Main article: Religion in Algeria

Algeria is a Muslim country, with Christian and Jewish minorities. About 99% of Algeria is Islamic.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(December 2008)

Main article: Algerian cuisine

See also: Arab cuisine and French cuisine

Algerian cuisine features cooking styles and dishes derived from traditional Arab, Amazigh, Turkish, and French cuisine. Additional influences of Jewish, Spanish, Berber and Italian cuisines are also found.[1] The cuisine is flavorful, often featuring a blend of traditional Mediterranean spices and chili peppers.[1]Couscous is a staple of the diet, often served with stews and other fare.there are some dishes who are so popular in algeria Like couscous, doulma, chakhchoukha and chtitha.


Traditional Algerian dress includes the burnous, qashabiya, kaftan, and djellaba.


Main article: Literature of Algeria

Modern Algerian literature, split between Arabic and French, has been strongly influenced by the country's recent history. Known poets in modern Algeria are Moufdi Zakaria, Mohammed Al Aid from the middle of the 20th century, and Achour Fenni, Amar Meriech and Azrag Omar in the late 1980s. Famous novelists of the 20th century include Mohammed Dib, Albert Camus, Kateb Yacine, and Ahlam Mosteghanemi, while Assia Djebar is widely translated. Among the important novelists of the 1980s were Rachid Mimouni, later vice-president of Amnesty International, and Tahar Djaout, murdered by an Islamist group in 1993 for his secularist views.[2]

In philosophy and the humanities, Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, was born in El Biar in Algiers, Malek Bennabi and Frantz Fanon are noted for their thoughts on decolonization, Augustine of Hippo was born in Tagaste (modern-day Souk Ahras), and Ibn Khaldun, though born in Tunis, wrote the Muqaddima while staying in Algeria.

Algerian culture has been strongly influenced by Islam, the main religion. The works of the Sanusi family in pre-colonial times, and of Emir Abdelkader and Sheikh Ben Badis in colonial times, are widely noted. The Latin author Apuleius was born in Madaurus (Mdaourouch), in what later became Algeria.


Main article: Music of Algeria

The Algerian musical genre best known abroad is raï, a pop-flavored, opinionated take on folk music, featuring international stars such as Khaled and Cheb Mami. In Algeria itself, raï remains the most popular, but the older generation still prefer shaabi, as performed by for instance Dahmane El Harrachi. While the tuneful melodies of Kabyle music, exemplified by Idir, Ait Menguellet, or Lounès Matoub, have a wide audience.

For more classical tastes, Andalusi music, brought from Al-Andalus by Morisco refugees, is preserved in many older coastal towns. For a more modern style, the English born and of Algerian descent, Potent C is gradually becoming a success for younger generations. Encompassing a mixture of folk, raï, and British hip hop, it is a highly collective and universal genre.

Although "raï".  is welcomed and praised as a glowing cultural emblem for Algeria, there was time when raï’s come across critical cultural and political conflictions with Islamic and government policies and practices, post-independency. Thus the distribution and expression of raï music became very difficult. However, “then the government abruptly reversed its position in mid-1985. In part this was due to the lobbying of a former liberation army officer turned pop music impresario, Colonel Snoussi, who hoped to profit from raï if it could be mainstreamed.”[3]

In addition, given both nations’ relations, Algerian government was pleased with the music’s growing popularity in France. Although the music is more widely accepted on the political level, it still faces severe conflictions with the populace of Islamic faith in Algeria.


Main article: Media of Algeria

Visual arts[edit]

1910: a generation of precursors[edit]

During the first half of the twentieth century, artists mainly recuperated models and patterns imported – or imposed – by an imperialist French power.[4]

As Edward Said argued in his book Orientalism in 1978, Algerian artists struggled with the perception and representations of Westerners. Almost a century after the conquest by the French, Azouaou Mammeri (1886–1954), Abdelhalim Hemche (1906–1978), Mohammed Zmirli (1909-1984), and Miloud Boukerche (1920–1979) were the first to introduce easel painting. They benefited from "breaches" in the educational system and were able to pursue a training in plastic arts. Even though they attempted to focus on the reality of Algerians' everyday routine, they were still to a certain extent incorporated in the orientalism movement.

The tradition of oriental illumination and miniature was introduced around the same period, through artists such as Mohamed Racim (1896–1974) or Mohamed Temman(1915-1988). It is the two main expression of figuration in a country where popular abstract symbolic, Berberian or Arabic, are integrated mainly through architecture, furnitures, weaving, pottery, leather and metal workmanship.

How to reappropriate one's own history is a dynamic in Algerian contemporary art, reflecting on the deep social changes people experienced.

Artists attempt a successful introspective work in which the duality in terms of identity creates a dynamic that overcomes "orientalism" and exotism. The main stake is for the artist and the spectator to reappropriate a liberty of expression and interpretation. Main artists of that period are: Boukerche, Benaboura, Ali Ali Khodja, Yelles, or Baya.

1930: a generation of founders[edit]

The vast majority of the artists incorporate the thematic of the independence war, from those who lived it to the artists that use it as a legacy. Impregnated by all the artistic and ideological movements that marked the first half of the twentieth century, artists are concerned with the society they live in and denounce segregation, racism and injustice that divided communities of colonial Algeria. A clear shift in operated from orientalism and exoticism: new themes such as the trauma and the pain appear, for instance in the portrait The Widow (1970) by Mohamed Issiakhem.

"Art is a form of resistance as it suggests and makes visible the invisible, the hidden, it stands alert on the side of life".[5]

It was also a time when Algerian artists start organizing themselves, through the National Union of Plastic Arts or UNAP (1963) for instance; artists such as Mohamed Issiakhem or Ali Khodja were part of it.

Non-figuration and "Painters of the Sign"[edit]

Abdallah Benanteur and Mohamed Khadda opened a path for abstract (non-figurative) Algerian art. They were French since childhood and emigrated to France. They were followed by artists such as Mohamed Aksouh, Mohamed Louail, Abdelkader Guermaz and Ali Ali-Khodja. Mohamed Khadda wrote[6] « If figurative painting appears as the norm in terms of expression, it is the result of an acculturation phenomenon». Artworks liberately figurative are a form of liberation in that sense, as literal representations do not seem to fully emerge from the cluster of exotism and orientalism.

The "Painters of the Sign" are Algerian artists born in the 1930s who, at the beginning of the 1960s, found inspiration in the abstract rhythm of Arabic writing. The term "peintres du Signe" was coined by the poet Jean Sénac in 1970. He was hosting in Alger the "Gallerie 54". The first collective exhibition reunited Aksouh, Baya, Abdallah Benanteur, Bouzid, Abdelkader Guermaz, Khadda, Jean de Maisonseul, Maria Manton, Martinez, Louis Nallard and Rezki Zérarti. He wrote in his presentation : "In this gallery 54, which aims at being a gallery of research in permanent contact with the people, we have brought together artists, Algerian or having deep links with our country" "We can assert, with Mourad Bourboune, that our artists do not only exhume the devastated face of our Mother, but, in the midst of the Nahda (renewal), they build a new image of the Man and stare endlessly at his new Vision"[7]


Algerian artists reconnected with part of their historical and cultural legacy, especially the influence of Berber culture and language. A great deal of attention was brought upon the Berber culture and identity revendications after the Berber Spring in 1988, and it impacted the cultural production. Denis Martinez and Choukri Mesli participated in the creation of the group Aouchem (Tattoo), which held several exhibitions in Algiers and Blida in 1967, 1968 et 1971. A dozen artists, painters and poets decided to oppose the mainstream organization of art – especially of figurative art, they believe to be represented by the UNAP, the National Union for Plastic Art. They opposed their policy of excluding many active painters. According to its manifesto : "Aouchem was born centuries ago, on the walls of a cave of Tassili. It continued its existence until today, sometimes secretly, sometimes openly, according to fluctuations of history. (...) We want to show that, always magical, the sign is stronger than bombs".[8]

In spite of a surge of political violence following the war of independence, where the hegemony of the Arabic culture and language tended to overlap on the berberian culture, the plastic traditions of popular signs managed to maintain. Aouchem builds on this traditional legacy.

Naivety and expressionism[edit]

Since the 1980s, there has been a renewal and also a form of "naivety", trying to go past the trauma of the war and address new contemporary issues. Baya (1931–1998) is the example of a great Algerian success story.[according to whom?] Her work was prefaced by André Breton and exposed by André Meight when she was still a teenager. She who has not known her mother as she was doubly orphaned by the age of 5, produced colorful watercolors with fake symmetries, questioning the figure of the Mother. She is part of the art brut movement.

Expressionism was dominated by Mohamed Issiakhem, affectionately nicknamed "Oeil de lynx" (lynx eye) by his fellow writer Kateb Yacine. When he was 15, he had an accident with a grenade. Two of his sisters and his nephew died, his forearm had to be amputated. His personal drama resonates in work. He expressed themes like grief and loss through the use of thick pastes and universal figures; as an echo of the hardships of the Algerian war, as well as the universal struggle of those silenced and oppressed.

Renewal of visual arts[edit]

Since the 1980s, a new generation of Maghrebi artists has arisen. A large proportion is trained in Europe. Artists locally and among the Diaspora explore new techniques and face the challenges of a globalized art market. They are bringing together various elements of their identity, marked by the status of immigrant of first or second generation. They address issues that speak to the Arab world with an "outsider" lens. Kader Attia is one of them. He was born in France in 1970. In a large installation in 2007 called Ghost, he displayed dozens of veiled figures on their knees, made of aluminum fold.[9]Adel Abdessemed, born in Constantina in 1970, attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Algiers, Algeria and then Lyon, France. Through his conceptual artworks, he displays strong artistic statements using a wide range of media (drawing, video, photography, performance, and installation). In 2006, he exposed at the David Zimmer gallery in New York City. One of his artworks was a burnt car entitled Practice Zero Tolerance, a year after riots in France and in the midst of a resurgence of terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001. Katia Kameli [1] also brings in the multiple aspects of her identity and environment, through video, photographs and installations.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(June 2008)

Main article: Cinema of Algeria

See also: List of Algerian films


Main article: Sport in Algeria

Football, handball, athletics, boxing, martial arts, volleyball and basketball are the most popular sports in the country.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  1. ^ abFarid Zadi. "Algerian cuisine". Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  2. ^Tahar Djaout French Publishers' Agency and France Edition, Inc. (accessed 4 April 2006)
  3. ^Gross, Joan, David McMurray, and Ted Swedenburg. "Arab Noise and Ramadan Nights: Raï, Rap, and Franco-Maghrebi Identities." Diaspora 3:1 (1994): 3- 39. [Reprinted in The Anthropology of Globalization: A Reader, ed. by Jonathan Xavier and Renato Rosaldo.
  4. ^Bellido], [dir. de la publication: Ramon Tio (2003). Le XXe siècle dans l'art algérien : [exposition ... qui a eu lieu au Château Borély, Marseille, du 4 avril au 15 juin 2003, et à l'Orangerie du Sénat, Paris, du 18 juillet au 28 août 2003]. Paris: Aica Press [u.a.] ISBN 978-2-950676-81-8. 
  5. ^Bouayed, Anissa (2005). L'art et l'Algérie insurgée : les traces de l'epreuve, 1954-1962. Alger: ENAG editions. ISBN 978-9961-623-93-0. 
  6. ^Bernard, Michel-Georges (2002). Khadda. Alger: ENAG Editions. p. 48. ISBN 9789961623008. 
  7. ^Dugas, Jean Sénac ; textes réunis par Hamid Nacer-Khodja ; préface de Guy (2002). Visages d'Algérie : Regards sur l'art. Paris: Paris-Méditerranée. ISBN 284272156X. 
  8. ^"Aouchem manifesto". Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  9. ^"Kader Attia : la puissance du vide". Retrieved 2013-08-31. 

Information about the similarities and differences of the lifestyles of a traditional Inuit family and that of a modern urban Inuit family.



        Summer: Tent (tupik)

                          Winter: Snow hut (iglu[singular]; Igluit [plural]), sod house (qarmait)


Modern:              House (illuvut)



Inuit families live together.

Traditionally Inuit would move with the animals and the seasons, which is why they had several different types of houses. Today Inuit live in small communities, and for the most part stay in that community year-round.  

Some Inuit still build iglus, especially when hunting.

Igluit built today are more for tourists and show

No structures have a basement- because of the permafrost.


Igluit for families have several rooms for storage and living space, usually 3 or 4 rooms.

One big iglu for all spaces.

A Inuk man can not marry unless he knows how to build an iglu.


Qarmait built onto hill side with stone, bone and wooden frames covered in seal skins, caribou hides and sod. One big Qarmaq with bedding all along the wall side.

Qarmait today have multiple rooms similar to modern houses. The roof is made of canvas or wood.


Inuit construct shelters over canoes and qamutik (sleds) to keep them warm when travelling. 


Websites with more information:



Hunting & Food

         Diet consisted mainly of meat from various animals like caribou (tuktu), walrus (aiviq), seal (nattiq), and whale (qilaugaq)


Modern:              Expensive food bought at the local Co-op or Northern store, or shipped up from the south. Most Inuit still eat traditional foods, they are just caught differently.




Most Inuit still hunt because food prices are very high in the community stores.

An annual shipment of dry goods is brought to each community when the ice breaks.

Most hunters have adapted modern equipment and machinery to traditional hunting. Inuit now travel by speed boats, snowmobiles, trucks, ATV’s, and motorized canoes.

Hunters had to rely on dogs to carry heavy loads when hunting and for travelling.   

Inuit today hunt with rifles and spears that are not made from traditional materials.

Dogs also served as hunting companions, guides and could detect animals that were in the distance.

Qamutiik (sleds) are still made the same way without using nails or screws to keep it together. 

Inuit today are selling country food or exchanging it for store bought foods.

Traditional food is still very much eaten.


Inuit still gather food for seasonal preparation and cache food for long winters or for others to take.


Inuit hold great respect for the land and animals, then and now.


When a hunter catches an animal for the first time, that animal is always brought to the midwife who was there when the hunter was born.




         Fur clothing, handmade by women, sewn by sinew and needles made of bone. 


Modern:              Mainly clothes bought from a store. Inuit still make traditional clothes but usually use modern materials such as duffel and cotton. 




Animal skins and hides are still being used for long term hunting. 

Synthetic materials such as canvas and polyester have replaced skins and hides. Much lighter and easier to clean.

New designers incorporate traditional styles into modern wear.

Clothing is most likely handed down from generation to generation depending on the quality of the material.

Inuit still make traditional kamiik with the outer parts made of skins/fur but the lining is duffel as it keeps you warm even when it gets wet.

Most northerners come to the South to shop for clothing as there are no clothing outlets in most northern communities. Internet shopping has also made life easier in getting the newest styles. 

Inuit still prefer the traditional way of preparing skins if it will be used for hunting clothing, as tanned skins are easier to rip and they get really loose. 

More Inuit are now embracing their culture; therefore, more traditional designs are being worn by Inuit.

Inuit still make their own hunting gear to suit the environment that they are situated in.

Inuit are working to protect Intellectual Property Rights because traditional designs are being used by non-Inuit to make profits.




         Adoption was a vital part of traditional life, families could either ask a pregnant woman for a child, or a pregnant woman would choose a family for her child. 


Modern:              Children are still adopted, and it is recognized by most provinces and territories.              




Children are still adopted by families looking to adopt children, and by birth mothers placing their child with a particular family. 

Traditionally there was no paper work needed to adopt a child, simply by discussion, arrangements would be made for adoption. Today, there is much bureaucracy when dealing with adoption, especially in the south.

Adoption is an open concept in the Inuit culture, there is no stigmatism.

Traditionally a child can refer to both sets of parents without judgement.

If a couple cannot conceive a child, they are given a child or they seek a child so they can start producing their own, it’s believed that the womb gets jealous, therefore they are able to produce children.

Traditionally the first grandchild is most likely adopted by grandparents.


If a family cannot conceive a baby girl or a boy, then they are given or they seek a child to balance out the genders and for family support.


Breast milk would be shared by children when raising them at a young age.




         Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Inuinnaqtun, Nunatsiavummiutut


Modern:              Inuktitut (commonly used to refer to the general language spoken by Inuit in Canada), English & French




Each community has their own distinctive dialect; there are similarities between close communities.

Inuit have to invent new words as new technology/materials arrive.

The Inuit culture did not have a writing system until the early 1900’s; the system was adopted from the Cree language by a missionary who taught the syllabic chart to the Inuit. Then they, the Inuit, taught the younger generation how to read and use the syllabic writing system.

The symbols that are called finals were not added to the chart until the 1970’s, and a whole row of syllabics were dropped, reducing the number from 60 symbols to 45. 

The older generation can read text in Inuktitut without the finals.

Inuktitut is taught in schools. Some communities teach Inuktitut up to grade 3, and then English is taught after grade 3.

The Nunavut Language Law has been passed, 4 official languages are in practice, compared to the N.W.T. Language laws which have 13 official languages.

There is a French immersion school in Nunavut and there is no Inuktitut immersion school.


Inuktitut was forbidden in Classrooms during the Residential School era.




         Games such as string games, juggling, drumming and throatsinging.


Modern:              Televisions, video games, computers and hip-hop. 




Seasons play an important role in entertainment. Toonik Tyme, Summer Games and Christmas are a few examples.

Inuit like to square dance/jig during the seasonal holidays. This was adopted from the whalers who brought record players to the north.

Various Inuit games are played year round or centred on seasons.

Today’s generation like video games, T.V., internet and computer games.

Annual Arctic Winter Games are held in the North to promote the culture and to maintain good health.



See ICOR podcasts for examples of various games. 




Traditional:         Games like the one foot high kick, two foot high kick, seal hop, arm pull, leg wrestle and musk-ox push are still played today.


Modern:              All sports are popular up north, but hockey is a favourite. Adaptations of games like baseball can last all night long in the midnight sun of the summer. 




Used for entertainment and physical fitness.

Today, most sports are played by Inuit, hockey being the favourite.

Winners of events are revered and admired.

Inuit baseball, rules are a bit different and even the equipment  is unique (balls made of stuffed seal skin). 


Traditionally Inuit jumped with a seal skin jump rope.




Traditional:         Qamautiik (sleds), Umiak (boats), Kayak


Modern:              Snowmobiles, ATV’s, automobiles, trucks, speedboats and motorized canoes.




Inuit used to travel by walking, kayaking, on the Umiak or by dogsleds, some people still do.

Inuit have adapted modern machinery to northern lifestyles. Inuit now have access to all modern equipment or machinery. 

Northerners still depend on airlines to travel in out of the North and it can be very expensive ($2000+ for an airline ticket alone)

Inuksuit are still used when travelling on the land.


Inuit still follow travelling patters or routes when on the land.


Annual shipments of goods by ships and barges as there are no highways linking communities to one another.  


Cruise ships are a regular site in communities along the Hudson Bay coast. 




Traditional:         Gender differences for specific role; although men mainly hunted and women mainly made clothing, it was vital for a woman to know how to feed her family, and a man to repair damaged clothing while hunting. 


Modern:              Holidays such as Christmas and Easter play a vital part to many Inuit Communities, with special community gatherings with food and music. 




The qulliq (stone lamp, arctic cotton is used as the wick, and animal fat or canola oil is used for fuel) is still used today although it is mainly for show when it used to be lifeline, essential for warmth, light and cooking source. 

A large percentage of Inuit are Christians, mainly

Gender differences, certain parts of the animal should only be eaten by women or men.


Shamanism vs. Christianity

There are some Shamans today, but they do not want to be known, for fear of retribution from their community. 

Naming is valued in the Inuit culture. A name lives on forever through another Inuk. If a person dies in a community, the children born after his/her death will more likely take on the name of the deceased. Then that child can inherit some personal traits of the carried name and he/she must use kinship terms that the name bearer used.





         Inuit children would learn through observation and imitation. 


Modern:              Inuit children attend schools in their own communities.




Inuit traditions were taught through observation and hands-on activities. The environment was the classroom and the people around were the teachers; everyone had a role in a community. 

More Inuit are seeking formal education through post-secondary studies in southern counterparts of the country. There are no universities in the North, and some colleges offer trades that are suitable to their environment. 

Some Inuit have very low literacy levels; some people cannot read or write in Inuktitut or English, but it does not impede their ability to succeed in their community. 

Inuit are developing their own curriculum, as schools up north follow southern curriculums.


There is a high drop-out rate in the North, mostly because hunting seasons collide with day to day education values of the main stream society. 



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