My book written in French is based on my thesis, situated in the context of francophone and maghrebian postcolonial studies. It examines the impact of identity discourses on the protagonists' subjectivity in four autobiographical inspired novels of two Algerian/French writers of two different generations: Assia Djebar, who was born in 1936 in Algeria under French colonisation, and Nina Bouraoui who was born 1967 after the Algerian independence.
These novels draw a parallel between two historically connected spaces, France and Algeria, and periods, the years of the Algerian war of independence and the rise of Islamists in 1990s Algeria. The movement between the two spaces and periods constitutes in a literal and figurative sense a third space that contributes to the protagonist's hybridisation.
Hybridity (Homi K. Bhabha) is analysed as a narrative and discursive strategy that subverts and recodifies different identity dis¬courses that transmit normative ideas about cultural, ethnic and gendered belonging. Hybridity is also shown in the literary genre. By connecting the past and the present through individual and collective reminiscence, the four novels reinterpret history while transgressing the frontiers of classical genres: the fictional, the testimonial and the autobiographical intertwine with the historiographical. In the four novels the return to one's origins remains an illusion. The only place where the protagonists can negotiate and express their hybrid subjectivity is constituted in and through their writing.
In the seminar I will focus on the relation between history, transgenerational memory and the body. I will show how in the novels the conflicts between Algeria and France due to the common traumatic history are transmitted to the generation born after the Algerian independence.
Assia Djebar, who has an academic training as a historian, reconstructs the forgotten history of female characters in her novels. Through the character of the narrator-cineaste and the reconstruction of the story of Zoulikha, a maquisarde (freedom fighter) and historical character during the independence war, Assia Djebar reconstitutes in La Femme sans sépulture her own heritage and that of the interviewed women, which is associated with Luce Irigaray's theory of feminine genealogy as a model of identification.
In the two novels of Nina Bouraoui I point out that the protagonist's psychical problems (panic attacks and a strong feeling of guilt) are due to her dolorous family history. Her body, the product of cultural and discursive significations (Foucault), is the witness of the French-Algerian conflict. Based on Judith Butler's analysis of guilt in the myth of Antigone, I show that the confession in Bouraoui's novels has another effect than in the myth of Antigone: while Antigone's confession leads to her own condemnation, the confession through the Bouraouian writing has a therapeutically dimension and avoids a fatal issue.