Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL)


Gareth Smail




In this paper, I examine how discourses of language and citizenship are intertwined in Algeria. While this issue is typically approached with an eye to how different linguistic groups compete for power within the domain of language policy, I use the framework of governmentality (Foucault, 1991) to show a more complicated picture. Specifically, I argue that political ideologies imply different conceptions of what it means to teach Algeria’s official language of education, Standard Arabic (alfuṣḥā). While nationalist ideologies envision an Arabic education tied to Islam and/ or the Middle East, neoliberal ideologies reject that model and argue for an Arabic education that facilitates creativity, individuality, and success on international measures of learning. I use this framework to analyze multiple perspectives of the social media scandal of Sabah Boudras, the Algerian school teacher who posted a video of herself in her classroom and was criticized by the country’s Minister of Education, Nouria Benghabrit. Through a discourse analysis focused on narrative positioning across events (Wortham & Reyes, 2015), I show that people strategically employ these discourses about Arabic teaching to invoke different configurations of belonging to and exclusion from the Algerian national community.