Venice Moments, at Just the Right Time

Friday, April 8, 2022 | Venice, Italy

A Venetian flag flutters over one of the canals that remain the city's primary arteries.

Given how widely I've been fortunate to travel, it takes a lot to shock me. But the view as we emerged from the Venice train station, squinting in the afternoon sun, really stopped me in my tracks: beyond a small plaza lay the sparkling emerald water of the Grand Canal, crisscrossed by gondolas, water taxis, and pleasure craft—just as I'd always imagined it, yes, but very much alive.

Or maybe I had just forgotten how it feels to travel. By the time Nina, Stella, and I visited Venice back in September, it had been nearly two years since our last proper vacation. After a few days in South Tyrol (the rugged slice of northern Italy that is largely Germanic in language and culture) we spent four nights in Venice. It was a chance to finally discover a place we had both longed to visit but—put off by horror stories of overcrowding—had never dared to.

Amid perfect late summer weather, we spent our days meandering through the city, gelato in hand and Stella in the backpack. We took a sunset gondola ride, snapped a thousand photos, and toured the Basilica di San Marco and Doge's Palace. (The latter is a fascinating relic of Venice's opulence during its heyday as the capital of a sprawling maritime empire and an enlightened hub of commerce and the arts.) We discovered a favorite restaurant, Al Vecio Portal, with astounding seafoods and pastas served in a secluded garden—where little Stella charmed the waiters and fellow patrons several evenings in a row.

Reverberations of the Ukraine Crisis

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

For Ukraine, Russia's ongoing invasion presents an existential crisis unseen in generations. It may yet prove to be so for the rest of us, too. Already, it looks likely to be a watershed geopolitical moment, on the order of the fall of the Berlin Wall or September 11.

Consequently, I have spent much of the past few weeks watching events there closely and trying to understand the implications. As part of that exercise, last week I published an analysis at Democracy in Exile, the journal of Democracy in the Arab World Now. (For those who don't know it, DAWN is the organization founded by Saudi journalist and rights activist Jamal Khashoggi before his assassination.)

Expanding on a piece I wrote last month for the Atlantic Council, the analysis explores Algeria's diplomatic positioning as well as how this new geopolitical crisis could impact the country's future. In short, it's all about the long game:

"For all the complex calculus it has imposed on Algerian diplomats, the implications of the Ukraine crisis for Algeria's immediate economic outlook have been more clearly positive. However, this rosy initial picture may grow more mixed in the months ahead."

Read the full analysis here: "Russia's War in Ukraine Will Relieve the Pressure on Algeria's Leaders—for Now" or in Arabic here: "حرب روسيا في أوكرانيا ستخفف الضغط على القادة الجزائريين في الوقت الحالي." As always, your feedback is welcome.

Three Years After the Hirak Began, Could War in Europe Extinguish Hope for Algeria’s Popular Movement?

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Algerians gather in central Algiers during a Hirak protest, July 2019

With international attention concentrated for weeks on Russian forces amassed at Ukraine’s borders, fewer resources have been spent anticipating the many second- and third-order effects that conflict between these two countries could trigger worldwide.

In light of its recent history, Algeria is one country whose fate could swing substantially based on Russia’s actions in eastern Europe.

Those are the opening lines of my latest analysis for the Atlantic Council, in which I explore how the looming possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine could impact Algerians' campaign for reform and accountable government.

The Year in Review: 2021

Friday, January 7, 2022 | Kassel, Germany

New arrivals in 2021: Stella and The Algerian Dream

Strange though it seems, there's no getting around it: Amid a challenging year for the planet and the human race, Nina and I had an unforgettably good year in 2021, marked by just as much transition as our turbulent 2020.

Here's a look back at some major milestones for us and the wider world, some of my favorite media from the year, and a look ahead to 2022.

Talking 'The Algerian Dream' on Maghreb-Orient Express

Sunday, October 31, 2021 | Paris, France

My studies in Paris this year have given me the chance to visit the city regularly throughout the year. I took advantage of my latest visit to join this week's episode of "Maghreb-Orient Express," French broadcaster TV5MONDE's cultural program on the broader Middle East and North Africa.

Some readers may remember that I also appeared remotely on an episode of the show back in 2016, to discuss my photography and writing on Algeria.

The weekly program features a fantastic slate of writers, singers, and other artists, doing their best to break down cross-cultural misunderstanding and animosity in an age that is sadly rife with both. So this year the producers invited me to return after hearing about my new book, The Algerian Dream, I was all to happy to oblige.

The show is taped in advance for scheduling purposes but broadcast exactly as recorded, making it effectively like live TV— and ratcheting up the pressure. Appearing on live TV (especially in a foreign language) is a challenging exercise in thinking on one's feet, and as expected this episode included some surprises—most notably when presenter Mohamed Kaci tossed me a tough question about the latest round of intense diplomatic chest-thumping between the French and Algerian governments. (In answering, I did my best to steer the discussion back to issues of actual relevance to the young Algerians who are my book's subject.)

The episode runs 26 minutes and includes interviews with French-Lebanese singer Yara Lapidus, French writer Laure Limongi, and me. I invite French speakers to watch on TV5MONDE online, Facebook, or YouTube. And if you enjoy it, please share with others!

The Algeria Bouteflika Built

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Throughout much of my time in the country, this creepy poster of Algerians sporting Bouteflika's eyes graced a wall of the Houari Boumediene International Airport in Algiers.

As its title suggests, my new book, The Algerian Dream: Youth and the Quest for Dignity, is the story of a nation, especially its young generation. But one individual's name recurs repeatedly in that story: Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Perhaps no man did more than Bouteflika, the country's president from 1999 to 2019, to shape the Algeria in which that young generation's "quest for dignity" began—or to make their quest necessary in the first place.

Bouteflika, the man so many Algerians (only half jokingly) kidded might outlive them all, died last week, leaving behind a complicated legacy but one that did few favors to his countrymen who survive him, particularly the youth who will be forced to live with the impact of his actions (and his inaction) for years to come.

Bouteflika's legacy and its implications for Algeria's future are the subject of my latest piece for the Atlantic Council, where I am now a nonresident senior fellow for North Africa.

Read the full article at the Atlantic Council MENASource blog: "Mourned by some, cursed by others, former President Bouteflika left Algeria ill-prepared for the future."

Book Launch: 'The Algerian Dream' Is Here!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Algerian Dream Youth and the Quest for Dignity by Andrew G. Farrand; Publisher: New Degree Press; Release date: September 1, 2021; Formats: Paperback, E-book; Length: 394 pages; Language: English; Cover photographs: Sabri Benalycherif; Interior photographs: Andrew G. Farrand; Interior map: Amina Wafaa Berrais; Available now wherever fine books are sold.

The seeds of human progress are sowed by those who dare to dream—and it is their stories we should be celebrating.

That's the belief that motivated me to write my new book, The Algerian Dream: Youth and the Quest for Dignity. It's also what motivated me through the long journey to publication, a journey that ends today.

Today is the official worldwide release of The Algerian Dream, which is now available from booksellers worldwide.

I am grateful to so many people who helped me to write this book, and particularly to the many inspiring young Algerians who I met during my years in the country, and whose story is still being written. My hope is that this book will help outsiders better understand the dynamics shaping contemporary Algeria, paving the way for new generations of Algerians to tell their own stories to the outside world.

I invite readers everywhere to discover the book, and I look forward to your feedback!

More information:

  • Find full details about the book here, including where to buy it worldwide. (Yes, even in Algeria!)
  • Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more updates on the book.
  • A Star Is Born

    Sunday, June 20, 2021 | Kassel, Germany

    Stella in her Father's Day outfit
    "Les pères de famille sont les derniers aventuriers des temps modernes."

    The words come from Charles Péguy, a French poet (and father of four) writing over a century ago: Fathers are the last adventurers of modern times.

    A friend sent me the quote back in the spring, shortly after my wife, Nina, gave birth to our first child, a wonderful daughter we named Stella. But so far at least, the words seem very much exaggerated. Motherhood, which overcame Nina more instantly and totally, is incontestably arduous. Fatherhood, by contrast, feels like a slow build, one that inches day-by-day from the realm of the surreal to the real as the little one grows more into a person, with her own preferences, expressions, and quirks of personality.

    Since joining the family, Stella has prompted many adjustments but generally not pushed us to our limits the way most newborns do. For a while, progress in finalizing my book slowed and my attention to my grad school classes waned, but overall the transition has been manageable. In large part that's because Nina and I have both been lucky to be able to take time away from work and enjoy the support of generous family in these first weeks and months. (Nina's parents