Principal Investigator

Kamal Salhi is Reader in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies. His main areas of interest are postcolonial cultural and performance studies of North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and societies where Islam has an influence, including Europe and Asia at large. He has also developed expertise in colonial legacies and postcolonial conflicts and their literary and cinematic representation. Until recently, he was Visiting Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Visiting Professor in Algeria; Deputy Director of the Leeds Centre for African Studies.

Having attended secular schools in Algeria where he learned music, chanting and singing, he later became a leader of a choral that performed both secular and religious texts over a period of seven years. He then attended specialised courses in theatre and cinema in France and Algeria. He wrote and directed plays, made documentaries and co-directed the full-length film, Pour la Liberté, in French and Berber about the Franco-Algerian conflict. While working as a cultural advisor for the Ministry of Culture he led artistic groups and organised conferences and seminars, and conducted research in North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Kamal Salhi was awarded a PhD with Distinction in Francophone Literature and Drama from the University of Exeter. He was appointed to two consecutive research fellowships respectively in the Department of Drama and the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, investigating the popular religious performances and their impact on popular and national celebrations in the North African region and France. His research translated into research papers he presented during his fellowships. He compared various religious and secular celebrations, manifestations and ceremonies. He has since then developed a strong interest in performance theory and ritual analysis.  

He was appointed Director of the Institute of Languages at the University of Tizi Ouzou. In 1994 he took up a research fellowship at Exeter before joining the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Leeds in 1995. In 1997, he established the Centre for Francophone Studies, first of its kind in the UK, which later developed into the Centre for French and Francophone Cultural Studies. At the same time he founded the first International Journal of Francophone Studies, and published two books, Francophone Voices (1999) and Francophone Studies: Discourse and identity (2000). Later he led the AHRC/ERC funded project, “Performance, Politics and Piety”, completed with Distinction and the establishment of the international journal, Performing Islam.  

Kamal Salhi’s interdisciplinary research developed significantly, often incorporating ethno-cultural approaches, music, performance, popular culture, Islam and ritual, and visual representations. Examples that illustrate these approaches can be found in some of his publications: The Politics and Aesthetics of Kateb Yacine: From Francophone Literature to Popular Theatre (1999); African Theatre for Development: An Art for Self-determination(1998); “The Pragmatics and Aesthetics of Kateb Yacine Theatre Practice”, in Modern African Drama, A Norton Critical Edition, (2002); “Theatre of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia” in A History of Theatre in Africa, (CUP, 2004); “Essentials for Rethinking Postcolonial Cultures: The Problematic of Minoritizing in North Africa”, in Mosaic North Africa: a Cultural Re-appraisal of Ethnic and Religious Minorities, (CS, 2007); “Les arts et la démocratisation dans les pays du tiers-monde”, Social and Human Sciences Review, (1995); “Theatre, Politics and National Identity: the Ambiguous Compromise”, Journal of Algerian Studies, (1999/2000); “Slimane Benaïssa from Exile in the Theatre to Theatre in Exile: Ambiguous Traumas and Conflicts in the Algerian Diasporic Drama”, in Journal of North African Studies, (2006); “Religion in the Francophone Postcolonial Word”, in A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and its Empires, (EUP, 2008); Music, Culture and identity in the Muslim World: Performance, Politics and Piety (Routledge, 2014); “the paradigm of performing Islam beyond the political rhetoric”, in Music, Culture and identity in the Muslim World.

Kamal Salhi would be delighted to supervise research in the above areas. Please contact