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Linguistics and English Language

Eman Alkroud

Thesis title: 'Renarrating the Berbers in Three Tamazight Translations of the Holy Quran: Paratextual and Framing Strategies'

The relationship between (post)coloniality and translation has received much attention in recent years (Gamal 2012, Stahuljak 2010, Jacquemond 1992, Mehrez 1992, Adejunmobi 1998).

Translation has been shown to play many contradictory roles in colonial and postcolonial contexts, having been used both as a tool of colonisation and as a channel for decolonisation (Robinson 1997:31).

The Berber context provides an interesting example of an indigenous people who suffered the consequences of a complex double-layered colonisation. In the seventh century, they were colonised by the Arabs and in the twentieth century, they were colonised by the French. Both forms of colonisation have left indelible marks on the community. In the aftermath of the independence of the North African states, specifically, Morocco and Algeria (1956 and 1962, respectively), after years of French colonisation, Arabisation policies were enforced to counteract years of Western hegemony. Having fought with the Arabs against the French colonisers during the anti-colonial nationalist movements in the 1950s, the Berbers had been looking forward to being represented equally with the Arabs in the post-independence nation-states.

However, the sudden revival of Arabic and Arab culture, which aimed primarily to create one homogeneous nation, meant that the Berbers now appeared to be relegated to an inferior position and pushed back to the peripheries. This situation gave rise to what is generally referred to as ‘the Berber question’; the Berbers now became increasingly aware of their minority status and began to demand certain rights. Bilingualism topped their list of demands; they insisted that Tamazight should be declared an official language, alongside Arabic. Translation, most importantly the translation of the holy Quran, became an important means of asserting these rights and the identity of the Berber as a distinct nation.

Examining three translations of the holy Quran into Tamazight, this study draws on narrative theory to investigate the role that Tamazight translations of the Holy Quran have played in renegotiating the political landscape of Berber communities in the past fifteen years (1999-2014).