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In 1969, Ouardia Belanteur was one of the very first Algerian women to study in the USSR, as part of programme of Algerian-Soviet educational cooperation. From a poor rural background, she and her sisters were the first in their family to receive formal schooling. Ouardia had nevertheless always been fascinated by the USSR, not least because her father was a railway worker with ties to the Algerian Communist Party. After an intensive year of Russian language study in Kiev, she studied geochemistry in Leningrad. In 1973, she was also part of Algerian delegations to the Tunis Pan-African Youth Festival and the Berlin International Youth Festival. Ouardia’s story reveals the ease with which young, educated Algeria women and men were able to move between university courses and employment in the 1960s, but also women’s negotiations within their own families to continue their education and travel and the frictions between more left-wing students and the more socially and politically conservative Algerian state.

the lands of my father