The specific plurality of Assia Djebar
UNSPECIFIED. (2004) The specific plurality of Assia Djebar. FRENCH STUDIES, 58 (3). pp. 371-384. ISSN 0016-1128Full text not available from this repository.
Recent postcolonial criticism suffers from a sense of anxiety regarding the appropriate balance between cultural specificity and post-identitarian hybridity or 'creolisation'. Thinkers differ in their understanding of the importance of identity, at times advocating that the affirmation of a particular subject position is the only means of resisting (neo)colonial domination, and at others asserting that a celebration of relationality and cultural plurality can serve to critique entrenched power relations. Conceptions of postcolonial resistance waver between the urge to privilege an alternative, monologic identity on the one hand, and liberation through the dissolution of all specified identity categories on the other. The apparently stark opposition between these two modes of thought demands, however, to be unsettled and rendered more subtle. I want to use the texts of Assia Djebar, with reference also to the theories of Jean-Luc Nancy and Peter Hallward, to rework the terms of this debate. Rather than championing exclusively either cultural specificity or trans-culturation, Djebar's work incorporates a continued struggle between the specific, the singular and the plural. First, Djebar's texts set out to unveil or conceive a feminine Algerian identity, rescuing Algerian women from occlusion both by colonialism and Islamic law and giving voice to their repressed specificity. Despite her belief in the necessity of this project, however, she finds that it is troubled on two levels. On the one hand, the desire to retrieve some particular essence results in the continual retreat of that essence, and the more the texts hope to uncover, the more they inadvertently mask or hide. Algerian identity is replaced, therefore, with a sense of the intractable singularity of the occluded 'self'. Furthermore, the singularity turns out to be not absolute but composite, as the erasure of the subject is coupled with a proliferation of diverse traces and echoes. the quest for identity intermittently dissolves, and Djebar displays postcolonial experience in Algeria instead as a curious coalescence of intractable singularity and ongoing intercultural plurality.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures|
|Journal or Publication Title:||FRENCH STUDIES|
|Publisher:||SOC FRENCH STUDIES|
|Official Date:||July 2004|
|Number of Pages:||14|
|Page Range:||pp. 371-384|
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