Performative Pasts rethinks concepts of transnational memory from a gendered perspective in relation to French-language narratives from Algeria and France since 1962. The book’s focus on ‘performativity’ links theoretical perspectives on gender to the ‘performative turn’ in memory studies. This approach provides new readings of French-language works of literature, film, and theatre by five writers (some canonical, others overlooked): Assia Djebar, Hélène Cixous, Ahmed Kalouaz, Malika Mokeddem, and Nina Bouraoui. The book reappraises both the ‘connective’ representation of disparate pasts and the reproduction of gendered imaginaries in the present.
“The book is steeped in the theoretical framework of memory studies (Hirsch, Rosello, Rothberg, Silverman, and others). Gender in this study importantly refers not just to the place of women in society (Djebar, Mokeddem) but also to concepts of colonial masculinity and of brotherhood (Cixous, Kalouaz) and to gender non-binary identities (Bouraoui). Whereas many critics tend to provide sometimes too positive or too negative interpretations of these authors’ works, Ivey’s book is notable for its nuanced, sophisticated, and ethical assessments of the works.”
Anne Donadey, San Diego State University