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

    Parliamentary Elections Won’t Rescue Algeria from its Legitimacy Problem

    Saturday, June 12, 2021

    A crowd listens to citizen proposals at an early Hirak march in Algiers (2019).
    Today is election day in Algeria, albeit under tense circumstances. Arrests of activists and journalists have expanded in recent days; the latest tally counts over 220 detainees. While putting many Algerians on edge, this campaign will do nothing to inspire participation in today's vote. For more on the stakes of today's polls and their context, read my latest analysis, published earlier this week at the Atlantic Council's MENA Source blog:
    Arriving on the heels of two years of overt popular contestation, Algeria’s June 12 parliamentary elections will not suffice to resolve the country’s deep political impasse.

    The upcoming polls are the latest attempt by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s administration to claim a mantle of legitimacy it sorely lacks. Both Tebboune’s election i December 2019 and a constitutional referendum last November appeared to deliver the results he and his sponsors in the country’s powerful security forces sought. High levels of abstention and protest, however, highlighted a wide gulf separating Algerians from their leaders (in the country of forty-three million, fewer than one in seven eligible voters voted for the constitution, which passed nonetheless).

    Algeria’s rulers have long dismissed this gulf but it became undeniable in 2019 when the Hirak protest movement erupted, bringing an end to the twenty-year reign of Tebboune’s predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The mass demonstrations, which were triggered by Bouteflika’s choice to run for a fifth presidential term but were fed by years of accumulated frustration and indignity, also plunged the country into a political deadlock. For two years, gray-haired authorities have faced off against protesters drawn from a population that is much younger, hungry for opportunity, and less accepting of Algeria’s longstanding isolation. ...
    I invite you to read the full article here: "Parliamentary elections won’t rescue Algeria from its legitimacy problem." And if you enjoyed this analysis and want to learn more about current dynamics in Algeria, consider pre-ordering The Algerian Dream, my forthcoming book on Algeria's young generations. Full details here.

    Two Years On, Algeria’s Hirak Is Poised for a Rebirth

    Tuesday, February 16, 2021

    Exactly two years ago, residents of Kherrata, a nondescript town several hours' drive east of the Algerian capital, marched in protest against plans to prolong the rule of Algeria's president—and with it the era of corruption, waste, and repression he embodied. Days later, on February 22, 2019, their anger inspired millions of Algerians across the country to take to the streets, launching months of mass demonstrations for fundamental political change.

    The frustration and indignities that inspired that movement, which became known as the hirak, are the subject of my forthcoming book, The Algerian Dream, to be published later this spring.

    Last year, protesters paused the hirak due to the pandemic, but as Algeria marks the movement's second anniversary, its root causes are as pervasive as ever, making its resurgence all but certain. This morning, protestors began marching in Kherrata once more, presaging a new phase for the movement, as I argue in a retrospective on Algeria's hirak published today at the Atlantic Council's MENASource blog.

    I invite you to read the full article here: "Two years on, Algeria’s Hirak is poised for a rebirth."

    The Lesson of 2020: To Build Back Better, First Get the Structure Right

    Thursday, January 28, 2021

    This image is not an accident: Car near port of Beirut, 2017.

    In my 2020 retrospective, I promised a reflection on last year's greatest lessons for humanity. Turns out, if you boil it down far enough, there's just one big one:

    Two years ago Nina and I visited my aunt and uncle in Colorado, spending a week at their cabin outside Granby, near Rocky Mountain National Park. In 2020, Colorado recorded the three largest wildfires in state history. One of them, the East Troublesome Fire, finally halted just a stone's throw from the cabin's front door. The season's fires collectively burned 840,000 acres, an area larger than Rhode Island—but not because of drought or beetle-infested dead timber. Not really.

    Two years earlier we were strolling with friends along the Beirut corniche, surrounded by joggers, fishermen, skateboarders, and kids on tricycles. In 2020, their world was turned upside down, their businesses and schools and homes ruined, and over 200 killed—but not by an abandoned pile of fertilizer igniting in the port. Not really.

    And a few decades before that, I was born into a world with problems that had worsened until they threatened our species' very existence: nuclear war, epidemic disease, climate change. In 2020, we all saw our world turned upside down—but not by a virus from a wet market in Wuhan. Not really.

    The real problem? We can't get the structure right.