Independence from colonial rule did not usher in the halcyon days many North Africans had hoped for, as the new governments in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria soon came to rely on repression to reinforce and maintain power. In response to widespread human rights abuses, individuals across the Maghrib began to form groups in the late 1970s to challenge the political practices and structures in the region, and over time these independent human rights organizations became prominent political actors. The activists behind them are neither saints nor revolutionaries, but political reformers intent on changing political patterns that have impeded democratization.
This study, the first systematic comparative analysis of North African politics in more than a decade, explores the ability of society, including Islamist forces, to challenge the powers of states. Locating Maghribi polities within their cultural and historical contexts, Waltz traces state-society relations in the contemporary period. Even as Algeria totters at the brink of civil war and security concerns rise across the region, the human rights groups Susan Waltz examines implicitly challenge the authoritarian basis of political governance. Their efforts have not led to the democratic transition many had hoped, but human rights have become a crucial new element of North African political discourse.
This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1995.