This article looks at the process through which the Ibadi Mzabi community in the Algerian desert “minoritized” itself during the colonial period, leading into the 1948 elections to represent the Mzab Valley on the newly created Algerian Assembly. This representation legally and effectively incorporated the Mzab into French Algeria and ended its special status as a French protectorate. Mzabi self-minoritization, Ghazal argues, was a process of performative differentiation based on a sectarian identity. It was initiated by the colonized and negotiated with the colonizer, emerging at the intersection of colonialism and the institutionalization of political representation in colonial Algeria. Ghazal defines this process as self-minoritization to attribute a proactive role for, and more agency to, the colonized in claiming a “minority” identity and negotiating a special status within the colonial order.

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