Journal of Romance Studies

Contemporary Algerian francophone fiction, trauma, and the ‘war of memories’

Journal of Romance Studies (2017), 17, (2), 235–253.

Abstract

This article studies representations of the colonial past in three contemporary Algerian novels, and shows that these representations are informed by a common sense of absence, that of community in the colony, and touch upon most often on traumatic memories and images of violence. When considered in the context of the debate in France over the imperial past, called by some historians ‘the war of memories’, the different trauma discourses in these novels reveal that the three authors orchestrate an open dialogue over the allegedly positive legacy of colonization, and contest, each in her or his own way, the French attempt to come to terms with the imperial past by acknowledging colonization as a work of civilization. At the same time, they also work through their own sense of trauma, by reporting different forms of colonial violence and commemorating native resistance to colonial domination.

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Abbas, Ferhat (2011) La Nuit coloniale (Algiers: Alger-Livres Editions). La Nuit coloniale Google Scholar

Attaf, Mohammed (2007) L’Arbre de la chance (Algiers: Alpha). L’Arbre de la chance Google Scholar

Auster, Shelly (2002) ‘Speaking and writing against ‘the sentence of history’: Assia Djebar’s Fantasia: Algerian Cavalcade’, Phoebe 14. https://ojs.geneseo.edu/index.php/praxis/article/viewFile/1512/946 (accessed 17 March 2017). Google Scholar

Benjamin, Walter (1968) Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Shocken Books). Illuminations Google Scholar

Blanche, Raphaëlle (2007) ‘The state, historians and memories: The Algerian War in France, 1992–2002’, in History on Trial: The Public Use of Contemporary History in Europe since 1989, ed. H. H. Jones, K. K. Ostberg, and N. N. Randeraad (Manchester: Manchester University Press), 159–173. The state, historians and memories: The Algerian War in France, 1992–2002 History on Trial: The Public Use of Contemporary History in Europe since 1989 159 173 Google Scholar

Brozgal, Lia (2016) ‘The critical pulse of the contre-enquête: Kamel Daoud on the Maghrebi novel in French’, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 20: 37–46, doi: 10.1080/17409292.2016.1120549 (accessed 4 April 2017). The critical pulse of the contre-enquête: Kamel Daoud on the Maghrebi novel in French Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 20 37 46 Google Scholar

Camus, Albert (2001) L’Etranger (Algiers: ENAG). L’Etranger Google Scholar

Caruth, Cathy (1996) Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press). Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History Google Scholar

Césaire, Aimé (1969) Une tempête (Paris: Seuil). Une tempête Google Scholar

Coetzee, J. M. M. (1986) Foe (London: Secker & Warburg). Foe Google Scholar

Coquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine (2009) Enjeux politiques de l’histoire coloniale (Marseille: Agone). Enjeux politiques de l’histoire coloniale Google Scholar

Daoud, Kamel (2013) Meursault, contre-enquête (Algiers: Barzakh). Meursault, contre-enquête Google Scholar

Daoud, Kamel (2015) The Meursault Investigation, trans. John Cullen (London: Oneworld). The Meursault Investigation Google Scholar

Day, David (2008) Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others Google Scholar

Djebar, Assia (1987) Ombre sultane (Paris: J. J. C. C. Lattès). Ombre sultane Google Scholar

Djebar, Assia (1995) L’Amour, la fantasia (Paris: Albin Michel). L’Amour, la fantasia Google Scholar

Djebar, Assia (1995) Vaste est la prison (Paris: Albin Michel). Vaste est la prison Google Scholar

Djebar, Assia (2006) ‘Discours’. http://www.lefigaro.fr/pdf/AssiaDjebar.pdf (accessed 24 March 2017). Google Scholar

Djebar, Assia (2007) Nulle part dans la maison de mon père (Algiers/Paris: Éditions Sédia/Fayard). Nulle part dans la maison de mon père Google Scholar

Fanon, Frantz (2002) [1961] Les Damnés de la terre (Paris: La Découverte/Poche). Les Damnés de la terre Google Scholar

Guendouzi, Amar (2017) ‘Assia Djebar and the legacy of French colonialism in Algeria: Mimicry and subalternity in Nowhere in my Father’s House’, The Journal of North African Studies 22: 205–219, doi: 10.1080/13629387.2017.1282859 (accessed 9 February 2017). Assia Djebar and the legacy of French colonialism in Algeria: Mimicry and subalternity in Nowhere in my Father’s House The Journal of North African Studies 22 205 219 Google Scholar

Hammoutene, Mohamed (2009) Les Oubliés de l’ histoire (Algiers: El Dar El Othmania). Les Oubliés de l’ histoire Google Scholar

High, Steven (2015) ‘Introduction’, in Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence, ed. Steven High (Vancouver: UBC Press), 3–30. Introduction Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence 3 30 Google Scholar

Khadra, Yasmina (2008) Ce que le jour doit à la nuit (Algiers/Paris: Éditions Sédia/Julliard). Ce que le jour doit à la nuit Google Scholar

LaCapra, Dominick (1998) ‘An interview’, Shoah Resource Center, Jerusalem, 9 June 1998. http://www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%203648.pdf (accessed 1 January 2017). Google Scholar

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Landsberg, Alison (2004) Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture (New York: Columbia University Press). Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture Google Scholar

Mortimer, Mildred (2013) ‘Writing the personal: The evolution of Assia Djebar’s autobiographical project from L’Amour, la fantasia to Nulle part dans la maison de mon père’, Journal of Women’s History 25: 111–129. Writing the personal: The evolution of Assia Djebar’s autobiographical project from L’Amour, la fantasia to Nulle part dans la maison de mon père Journal of Women’s History 25 111 129 Google Scholar

Nora, Pierre (ed.) (1997) [1984–1992] Les Lieux de mémoire (Paris: Quarto Gallimard). Les Lieux de mémoire Google Scholar

Rousso, Henry (1991) The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press). The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944 Google Scholar

Sarkozy, Nicolas (2007) ‘Discours de Toulon du 7 février 2007: la conception sarkosite du colonialisme’. Henri Pouillot. http://www.henri-pouillot.fr/spip.php?article205&lang=fr (accessed 3 November 2016). Google Scholar

Savares, Eric (2007) Algérie, la guerre des mémoires (Paris: Non Lieu). Algérie, la guerre des mémoires Google Scholar

Sekkal, Mohamed (2013) Au nom de la civilisation: crimes de guerre et contre l’ humanité en Algérie de 1830 à 1962 (Algiers: Casbah Editions). Au nom de la civilisation: crimes de guerre et contre l’ humanité en Algérie de 1830 à 1962 Google Scholar

Spivak, Gayatri C. C. (1985) ‘Three women’s texts and a critique of imperialism’, Critical Enquiry 12: 243–261. Three women’s texts and a critique of imperialism Critical Enquiry 12 243 261 Google Scholar

Stora, Benjamin (2007) La Guerre des mémoires: la France face à son passé colonial (entretiens avec Thierry Leclere) (La Tour d’Aigues: Editions de l’Aube). La Guerre des mémoires: la France face à son passé colonial (entretiens avec Thierry Leclere) Google Scholar

Taklit, Saâd (2012) Djebel Tafat, Bougaâ de 1830 à 1962: histoire et légendes (Algiers: Editions Dahlab). Djebel Tafat, Bougaâ de 1830 à 1962: histoire et légendes Google Scholar

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Author details

Guendouzi, Amar