“In Our Culture, Poets Have More Power than Politicians”: The Lives, Deaths and Legacies of Cheb Hasni and Lounès Matoub


  • Stephen Wilford City University London




Algeria, Kabylia, Cheb Hasni, Lounès Matoub, Memory, Conspiracy theories


This article examines the lives, deaths and legacies of two of the most popular Algerian musicians of the 1990s: “Cheb” Hasni Chakroun and Lounès Matoub. Both were killed at the height of their fame, as a result of the violence produced by the socio-political unrest and civil war in their country. Here, the ways in which these musicians engaged with political discourses are addressed, as well as the controversies that surrounded their subsequent killings. Furthermore, there is a consideration of their ensuing mythologization and place within collective memories of 1990s Algeria, as respected popular musicians, as cultural martyrs and as victims of circumstance. Finally, an assessment is made of their legacies within enduring discourses of political conspiracy, showing how the suspicions of Algerians with regards to their killings enable engagement with contemporary Algerian politics.

Author Biography

Stephen Wilford, City University London

Postgraduate Student (PhD Candidate) Department of Music



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