Is the Intellect Being Assassinated ? (’L’intelligence qu’on assassine’) : ‘Endangered intellectual’ as a contentious category during the Algerian civil war Chapitre d’ouvrage - 2020

Tristan Leperlier

Tristan Leperlier, « Is the Intellect Being Assassinated ? (’L’intelligence qu’on assassine’) : ‘Endangered intellectual’ as a contentious category during the Algerian civil war  », in Leyla Dakhli, Pascale Laborier, Frank Wolff (eds.) (ed.), Scholars at Risk : History and Politics of the Protection of Endangered Scholars, à paraître

Abstract

Far from being a matter of fact, the “endangered intellectual” in exile is a contentious category, calling into question both who counts as an “intellectual” in a context of circulation between countries and languages and what constitutes “danger.” It thus delimits who is a legitimate emigrant. This question is particularly contentious in the case of the Algerian Civil War, in which the assassination of intellectuals was not considered as a mere side effect of the war but rather the core of it. This chapter explores the political struggles around the notion of the endangered intellectual in the country of origin (Algeria) and in the former Metropole (France), where most who fled went into exile. Many Algerian intellectuals interpreted the civil war as a war waged by Islamists against “culture,” and this perception of the events was exported to France, contributing to the limited definition of the “endangered intellectual” as an anti-Islamist Francophone intellectual. After tracing that development, this article finally highlights the “recruitment” of the “endangered intellectual,” focusing on the negotiations between the applicant and the different institutions involved.

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