Algerian Boys' Clothes


Figure 1.--This photo postcard (split back ED) is unidentigfied. We believe that it was taken in the early 20th centuty, probably in Algeria.

The country's name, Algeria, is derived from the name of the oldest continuous settlement and modern capital-- Algiers. Algiers is located along the northern or Mediterranean coast. There the port provides access to both Europe and the Middle East. Algeria was conquered by Arab invaders (8th century). Clothing styles appear to have become heavily influenced bu Arab styles for the next 13 centuries. We do not yet know if there were destinctive Algerian styles. Our information in these historical periods is very limited. We do have some modern information. Algeria has had a dual modern existence. From 1830 to 1961, Algeria was a French colony. The French community in Algeria as well as some Francophone Algerians adopted French fashions, including the boys. This was prominant in the major cities, but not in rural areas. Almost all of the French and many of the Franciphone Algerians had to return to France after independence. Modern Algerian fashions are similar to those in the non-fundamentalist Arab world.

Geography

Algeria is one of the North African countries forming the Maghrib (western part of North Africa). The country's name, Algeria, is derived from the name of the oldest continuous settlement and modern capital--Algiers. Algiers is located along the northern or Mediterranean coast. There the port provides access to both Europe and the Middle East. Algeria is located in northern Africa, between Tunisia in the east and Morocco and Mauritania to the west. The Saharn begins south of the coastal mountains. Niger and Mali join southern Algeria with their vast Saharan expanses. Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, nut larger ares are vry lightly populated. Only the Sudan is larger. Most of the country, however, is covered by the Sahara desert or very arid areas just beyond the desert. The climate is desert like, although the coast does receive rain in the winter to sustain agricukture. Only 3 percent of the land is arable, The six Saharan provinces in the south represent a substantial part of country's land area. About 90 percent of the population with all of the cities is located in a narrow Mediterranean coastal band which Algerians call the Tell, or hill. This is the arable area of the country where there is some rain during the winter.

Historical Background

Algerian history dates back to ancient times. The Phoenicians/Catheginians established coastal settlements. After the Punic Wars, Algeria became part of the Roman Empire. With the fall of Rome came a period of Vandal control followed by the Byzantines. The Arab military expansion of over ran Algeria and the rest of North Africa (8th century). The Arab introduced Islam. The native Berber tribes at first resisted, but were gradually Islamicized. Spain conquered Algiers and other North Africa cities (16th century), but was outsted by Barbarossa who expanded the Ottoman Empire. The distances between Constaninople and Algeria, however, meant that Ottoman control was weak. The expanding economies meant increasing commerce in the Mediterranean and lucrative targets for pirates based in Algeria and other North African ports, beginning the era of the Barbary pirates. The pirates benefitted from both the cargos and taking crews and passangers as slaves. Europeans paid tribute to protect their shipping. Finally the European powers (especially Brirain and France) and a newly independent America confronted the Barbary pirates militarily. After the Napoleonic Wars, France intervened militarily in Algeria, beginning a period of colonial rule. The French faced local resistance, comminly more Islamic than nationalistic based. France made Algeria a legal part of France (1848). World War II was the beginning of the end of French control. The fall of France to the Germans (1940) seemed to expose French weakness. Vichy was left in control of Algeria. The Allies seized Algeria as part of the Torch landings (1942). France after the War attemptec to maintain its control of Algeria. Algerian nationalists launched a guerilla campaign (1950s) which led to a particularly brutal colonial war. The Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) finally suceeded in driving out the French and declaring independence (1962). About 1 million French colonists and Algerians who had cooperated with the French emigrated back to France. The FLN for a time developed close relations with the Soviets. The FLN adopted a range of Soviet inspired economic policies which proved to be economic disasters. The bright hope of independence resulted in wide-spread poverty and economic decline. More recently a struggle has developed between fundamentalist Islamists and the military. Thousands of people have been killed as a result of this struggle. Elections were held with just one candidate, Abdelazziz Bouteflika (1999). The Bouteflika government reached an agreement with Islamic rebels (September 1999). Some Islamic groups did not participate in the peace agreement. A more open election reelected President Bouteflika (2004). His Government continues to make progress against Islamic insurgents as well as improving the human rights situation in the country.

Economy

Algeria as a French colony had an economy largely based on agriculture. The country since independence has made little progress in developing a modern economy. The bulk of the population as a result is very poor. As a result of a bloody civil war, almostall of the French and many educated Algerians left the country. Today they are only about 2,000 French peope in sharp contrast to neighboring Morocco. And aout 2 million Algerians live in Frace, in some cases advicating some iod the same policies tha have made their home country so poor. The radical socialist leaders who led Algeria after independence did huge economic damage. And further problems have been created by a fundamentalist Islamic insurgency which has been brutlly supressed by the Army. During the French colonial era, agricultural production was very important. Governmnt policies has imaired the agricutural sector. The only industry that emerged since independence has been the hydro-carbon industry. Algeria has major resources of both oil and natural gas. The resource has been developed primarily with European technology. And as a result, Algeria is today one of the most important exporters of natural gas. These exports support a huge public sector, employing about 30 percent of the work force. Algeria except for hydro-carbons produces virtually nothing. As a result, unless the population can land aovernment job, their only hope is is to come to Europe, especially France.

Demographics

The Algerian population is about 30 million (2000). The ethnic mix is about 80 percent Arab and 20 percent Berber. Most of Algeria's population is located in the more fertile north. Here most of the Arabs or mixed Arab-Berber population have adopted a common Algerian culture. The major cultural variation is the Berber tribes which live in isolated settlenments in the south, both mountainous and desert regions. There are four [principal Berber groups. The Berbers are divided into four main groups. The largest is the Kabyles. They inhabit the Kabylia Mountains east of Algiers. The other Berbers groups live in the south away from the coast. The Chaouias inhabit the Aurès Mountains, the M'zabites in the northern Sahara, and the Tuaregs in the actual Sahara desert. Here the indigenous Berber culture survives. A small number of Europeans live in Algiers and the other northern cities. Large numbers of French settlers moved to Algeria during the colonil period, but most left with independemcve (1960). There was also a small Jewish population, but they also left beginning with the establishment of Israel (1948) and the the war for indepependence (1950s). .

Chronology

Algeria and the rest of North Africa was part of the Roman Empire and the population wore Roman styles. We do not yet have much historical clothing information on Algeria. Algeria was conquered by Arab invaders (8th century). Clothing styles appear to have become heavily influenced bu Arab styles for the next 13 centuries. We do not yet know if there were destinctive Algerian styles. HBC has little information on French colonial fashions in the 19th century, but believes that they were probably quite similar to fashions in metropolitan France, especially souther France. Available images on Algeria during the 20th century show boys wearing the same fashions that they would have in France, al though the warmer Algerian climate may have made for some minor differences. French colonial rule beginning in the 1830s had considerable influe on Algerian fashions, especially men and boy's fashions. This was especially true in the more urban areas. Algerian boys, however, might not wear short pants as much as the French boys--especially the older boys. This has become even more so after independence. Some French fashion influences have been retained. School children commonly wear smocks, usually with long pants. Algeria was one of the more westernized Arab states. Still many Algerians wear traditional dress, especially in the villages and rural areas. The ongoing civil war during the 1990s is also affecting fashion. Dressing in western fashions can provide clues as to a persons political attitudes, making one a potential target to the fundamentalists.

Garments

Algerian and French boys wore different clothing. This varied overvtime. And it also varied with some Algerian cgildren in the cities wearing French styles. French children did not wear Arab styles. We do not yet have much historical clothing information on Algeria. Algeria was conquered by Arab invaders (8th century). Clothing styles appear to have become heavily influenced bu Arab styles for the next 13 centuries. We do not yet know if there were destinctive Algerian styles. Our information in these historical periods is very limited. We note Algerian boys wearing fezes, baggy trousers, amd other Arab traditional garments. Many Algerian boys went barefoot, especially boys living outside the major cities. The French began to colonize Algeria in 1830. There was Algerian military resistance until the 1870s. The French presence lasted over 100 years until 1962 ( Accord de Genèvre ). French citizens settled in Algeria, primarily in the cities, and some Algerians adopted French customs and dress, primarily in the cities. In the villages and rural areas, Algerian boys and girls continued to wear Arab styles. The styles worn by French boys were identical with popular styles in Metropolitan France. French colonia rule beginning in the 1830s had considerable influe on Algerian fashions, especially men and boy's fashions. This was especially true in the more urban areas. Algerian boys, however, might not wear short pants as much as the French boys--especially the older boys. This has become even more so after independence. Some French fashion influences have been retained. School children commonly wear smocks, usually with long pants. Algeria was one of the more westernized Arab states.

Activities


Ethnic Groups

The Berbers are the indigenous peoples of inhabit North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They resisted the Arab conquest (8th century), but wee gradually Islamicized. They are now discontinuously distributed from the Atlantic east to Egypt's Siwa oasis and from the Mediterranean south to the to the Niger River. The spoke various Berber languages, which together form a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Most today speak Arabic and to a lesser extent French. Most Bervers now live in Mrocco and Algeria and are realtively rate to the east in Tunisua and Libya. There are many different Berber tribes. One is the Kabyles. Their homeland is the highlands of Kabylie in northeastern Algeria. Their name is derived from the name of that mountainous region. The Arabic word qabîlah, meaning tribe, the plural form of which is qaba'il. It Kabyle homeland is part of the Atlas Mountains at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Kabyles speak the Kabyle dialect of the Tamazight (the generic term for the Berber languages). They were a leading group in the Berber Spring (1980), a movement seeking official recognition of the Berber language in Algeria.

Personal Experiences










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Created: November 22, 1999
Last updated: 5:34 AM 1/24/2013