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Bledi Cockneys: music, identity and mediation in Algerian London

Wilford, Stephen (2016). Bledi Cockneys: music, identity and mediation in Algerian London. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The Algerian diaspora in London has grown exponentially in recent years, initially as a result of Algeria’s civil conflict and subsequently for economic and educational reasons. The local Algerian population has found itself dispersed across the city and its surrounding areas, with no focal point around which to develop a sense community. This has produced feelings of individual and collective cultural disconnection, which are particularly pronounced given the strong discourse of nationalism that has shaped Algerian politics since the country’s independence in 1962. At the same time, on a local level Algerians have been faced by both widespread public ignorance of their culture, and enduringly negative representations within the British media that associates Algerians with acts of terrorism.

In such circumstances, music has become important to Algerians in the city for a number of reasons. It offers, in a range of traditional and contemporary forms, a positive public display of Algerian culture for Algerian and non-Algerian audiences alike. Musical events also facilitate social interaction amongst the local diaspora, providing occasions in which Algerians from across the city can gather and collectively celebrate their culture. Whilst such moments of musicmaking provide entertainment and an expression of national pride, they also offer an opportunity for the negotiation of ‘London Algerianness’, a collective cultural identity that is shaped by, but uniquely different from, the Algerian cultures of France and the homeland.

This thesis focuses upon this notion of London Algerianness, examining the important role that music plays in constructing and mediating a shared, localised sense of collective cultural identity. Algerian music in London, it is argued, maintains connections with a transnational diaspora, but is also at the heart of a strong local identity, which is formed by the experiences of Algerians in early twenty-first century London.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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