Mammeri, Mouloud

Mammeri, Mouloud
   His Berber name is Lmulud Ath M`ammar, and he was born in Taourirt Mimoun in Greater Kabylia. Mammeri was a novelist, poet, and playwright. He was one of Algeria's greatest francophone literary figures, and he devoted all his life to the promotion of Berber culture and language. His name is synonymous with the Algerian Berber movement. In 1980, the Algerian authorities canceled his lecture on Berber culture (Berber poetry) at the University of Tizi Ouzou. This instigated the bloody events of the Berber Spring.
   Mammeri attended elementary school in his native village. After a long stay in Rabat (Morocco), he returned to Algiers, where he attended the Lycée Bugeaud and the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. He planned to enroll in the École Normale Supérieure, but World War II broke out, and he took part in the American campaigns in Italy, France, and Germany. He was active in the war of independence and was a member of the team that drafted a report to the United Nations on the Algerian decolonization question. Hunted by the French police, he fled to Morocco and stayed there until independence.
   After independence, Mammeri became a professor at the University of Algiers. The endowed chair of Berber studies was eliminated in 1962, and Mammeri managed to teach a course on Berber ethnology. In 1969, he became director of the Centre de Recherches Anthropologiques, Préhistoriques et Ethnographiques (CRAPE). During his tenure as director of this center and because of the vacuum left by the departing French archaeologists and ethnographers, he devoted his energies to the development of anthropological research on Berber oral literature, culture, and ethnomusicology. His ethnographic approach to the study of Algerian society was not accepted by the state authorities, as the latter regarded ethnography as embodying the intentions of the colonial research schemes. This led to his removal from the directorship of the center in 1978. Despite these difficulties, he continued working on Berber issues. In 1982, he established the Centre d'études et de recherches amazigh (CERAM) in Paris, with the journal Awal (The Word) dedicated to research on Berber issues.
   Similar to other writers of his generation, his literary legacy, be it in French or Berber, tells of the cultural struggles at the intersection of North African (especially Berber) and French culture. His novels in French include La colline oubliée (1952); Le sommeil du juste (1955); L'opium et le bâton (1965); La traversée (1982), which tells of his own disillusionment with postindependence Algeria; L'ahelil du Gourara (1985); and Culture savante, culture vécue (1938-1989). His plays are Le Banquet, précèdé de la mort absurde des Aztèques (1973) and Le Foehn (1982). His works concerning Berber culture and poetry are les Iserfa, poèmes de Si Mohand ou Mhand (1969), Tajerrumt n tmazighte (Berber Grammar, 1976), Poèmes kabyles anciens (1980), Machaho and Tellem chaho (1980), Yenna-yas Chikh Mohand (1989), and Précis de grammaire Berbère (Kabyle, 1986). On 25 February 1989 he died in an automobile accident.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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