This talk has been postponed. Rescheduling is currently being considered and further details, including a possible new date and time, will be announced soon. For the latest updates, check the event webpage linked below.

A seminar with Zohra Drif, Algerian freedom fighter and Senator on Algeria's Council of the Nation, 2001-2016, on her recent book Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter from Just World Books.

Moderated by William Granara, Director, Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies; Professor of the Practice of Arabic on the Gordon Gray Endowment, Harvard University; Director of Modern Language Programs, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University.

Followed by a book signing at the Harvard COOP Bookstore, 1400 Massachusetts Avenue, Harvard Square.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

About the book

With a foreword by Lakhdar Brahimi, this gripping insider’s account chronicles how and why the author, as a young French-educated woman in 1950s Algiers, joined the armed wing of Algeria’s national liberation movement to combat her country’s French occupiers. When the movement’s leaders, driven underground by the French security services, turned to Drif and her female colleagues to conduct attacks in retaliation for French aggression against the local population, they leapt at the chance, engraving their names among Algeria’s most iconic historical figures. (Their actions were later portrayed in Gillo Pontecorvo’s famed film “The Battle of Algiers”.)

When first published in French in 2013, this intimate memoir met with great acclaim—and no small amount of controversy. It is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand not only the anti-colonial struggles of the twentieth century and their relevance today, but also the specific challenges that women often confronted (and overcame) in those movements.

More, including advance praise for the book, available from Just World Books.

About the author

Zohra Drif is a hero of Algeria’s war of national liberation. Born in 1934 in Tiaret, in western Algeria, she studied law at the University of Algiers before joining the National Liberation Front. As a core member of the movement’s armed wing in Algiers, she conducted or supported several high-profile operations that advanced the revolutionaries’ struggle to draw international attention to France’s abuses against the local population and the Algerians’ need for freedom. Ultimately captured by the French and condemned to twenty years of forced labor for “terrorism”, she spent five years in prison in Algeria and France, during which she continued her legal studies and her activism.

In 1962, upon her country’s independence, she was freed from prison, and was soon elected to Algeria’s first National Constituent Assembly. She co-founded an organization to support youth orphaned in the liberation struggle, and went on to practice as a criminal lawyer in Algiers for several decades. A senator in Algeria’s Council of the Nation from 2001 to 2016, she served as a senate vice president from 2003 onward. In 1962 she married Rabah Bitat, one of the founding architects of Algeria’s liberation movement, with whom she had three children. Today she lives in Algiers and has five grandchildren.

Foreword contributor

Lakhdar Brahimi is a distinguished international diplomat who since 1993 has served as the UN’s Special Representative in Haiti, South Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. In the 1950s he was one of the leaders of Algeria’s national liberation movement, the FLN. After independence he served Algeria in senior diplomatic roles, then became Foreign Minister. He has made many contributions as a global thought leader including on issues of war, peace, and the environment. He is a member of the small, London-based group “The Elders”.

About the translator

Andrew G. Farrand, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, is fluent in French and North African Arabic. Since moving to Algiers, Algeria in 2013, he has worked as a writer, photographer, and freelance translator alongside his day job managing youth exchange and training programs. He blogs at ibnibnbattuta.com.

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