About the researcher

I am a British-Algerian researcher and artist.

My research focuses on intergenerational healing in the Isefra (oral poetry) of Kabyle women in Algeria. I engage with interdisciplinary practices across analogue photography, emulsion photography, the essay form to articulate narratives around mixed-heritage, ancestral trauma and healing, and working within museum archives. My practice is also concerned with museum ethics and restoration of artefacts belonging to indigenous communities. I am interested in interrogating the term ‘decolonisation’ within these contexts, and how we/who gets to correct digital archives that aim to inform audiences about the origins of an artefact.

In the past I have collaborated as a writing mentor, workshop mentor and artist with the British Museum, English Heritage, Shout Out Loud, The Writing Squad, Barbican Young Poets, the Portico Library and Manchester International Festival. I have acted as a Writer-in-Residence at MMU Special Collections Archives and Virtual Translator-in-Residence at National Centre for Writing. My debut pamphlet Notes of a Mongrel’s DNA is forthcoming in 2023 with Hesterglock Press.

Lydia Hounat headshot
Lydia Hounat headshot

PhD abstract

Thesis title

Intergenerational Healing in the Isefra (Oral Poetry) of Kabyle Women in Algeria


My research takes a practice-led approach to translating stories of Kabyle female identity and exploring their erasure. I focus on a Kabyle poetic form, Isefra, which is a type of oral poetry spoken in Kabyle-tongue, taqbaylit. My research also asks how does Isefra hold space for both trauma and healing in Kabyle communities, transcending through the generations, as well as the significance of voice as performance.

Many of the poems I study retell traumas sustained during the French Occupation of Algeria (1830 – 1962) and the Algerian Civil War (1991 – 2002). Initially, I set out to understand Isefra as a tool for expressing intergenerational trauma. Yet Isefra extends beyond articulating traumatic experiences. Isefra is also life-affirming. Poems are dedicated to many rites of passage throughout a Kabyle woman’s life; her wedding, her first menses, childbirth, to more seasonal celebrations such as the olive-picking in November, or the flow of the water springs in Kabylia — tafsut.

These stories act as an album of spoken memories to reacquaint future generations of Kabyle women with their origins; to reinforce their relationship with their culture where the community still sustains erasure and oppression from its colonial past. ‘Intergenerational healing’, therefore, may be much more encompassing in terms of what Isefra does for Kabyle people.

My research works from translation as a central pillar from which the practice and theory emerges. As my background is English-Kabyle, I also meditate on how my positionality acts as its own translation, i.e., how I navigate it within my family, writing on where it intersects or does not intersect with the research. I take an Autoethnographic approach using mixed-media artistic practices to documenting these tensions, as well as the kind of access it gives me within the community.

Researcher bio

Research interests

Intergenerational trauma, intergenerational healing, psychoanalytic theory, trauma theory, post-colonial theory, decolonisation, translation theory, Autoethnography, Interdisciplinary practice, voice and performance, oral literatures, indigenous narratives, Kabyle women, Algerian history, note-taking, mixed-heritage narratives, mixed-heritage philosophy and positionality.

Areas of expertise

Artistic Practice: poetry, concrete poetry, translation, essay form, analogue photography, collage, sculpture

Research: Kabyle women, mixed-heritage narratives, Isefra, Taqbaylit, Algerian History

Committee memberships

  • NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education)
  • The Writing Squad

Professional engagements

  • Writer-in-Residence Special Collections Archives – Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Workshop Mentor at Falmouth University and Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Virtual Translator-in-Residence at National Centre of Writing
  • Founding Editor, SOBER. Magazine
  • Research Student Teaching Associate 2022 – present (School of Falmouth & Art)

Grants and awards

Falmouth Doctoral Studentship, Falmouth University, 2022

External links



Year Qualification Awarding body
2021 PGCE 14+ English (Literacy & ESOL) University of Bolton
2020 MA Writing Royal College of Art
2018 BA English with Creative Writing Falmouth University