theater, artistic practice, & civic life in algeria

dr. jane e. goodman

About the Project

The project is an ethnographic study of local theater in northwestern Algeria, in particular, the Oran and Mostaganem regions. It began with a year of field research in 2008-2009, with a follow-up trip in 2010 and additional trips planned for 2011 and 2012.


My approach derives from performance studies and linguistic anthropology, in dialogue with an emerging interdisciplinary literature on democratic publics and civil society developed by scholars in public culture, political science, cultural anthropology, and history. In viewing theater as a site for creative experimentation and critical commentary, I emphasize both the wider historical contexts within which new publics develop and the situated choices made by actors, directors, and producers.  I attend to the development of theatrical scripts, the transformation from script to staged performance, the social relations of production, and audience reception. I also take into account the wider social and political networks in which actors, directors, and audience members are located.


I am grateful to members of the following theatrical associations for opening their work to me: El Moudja Theatrical Association; Istijmam Cultural Association; Numidya Cultural Association; Sidi Houari Foundation; Souk d’Oran. Many other scholars and theater afficionados, too numerous to mention, assisted in my research: I note in particular Raja Alloula, Lakhdar Mansouri, Kheira Bouattou, and Souad Harrat. I also thank the Center for Maghrebi Studies in Oran (CEMA), which generously hosted me during my stay.


The project has been generously funded by the following organizations: Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Fellowship; ACLS/SSRC/NEH International Studies Fellowship; American Institute of Maghrebi Studies Fellowship; Indiana University New Frontiers Faculty Research Fellowship; Indiana University College of Arts and Humanities Travel/Research Grant.


Website development was funded by the New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Program at Indiana University.


The current website is a pilot site with data from one troupe only. As funding and time permit, other troupes will be added.