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May 12 , 2011

Algerian Imprints

Ethical Space in the Work of Assia Djebar and Hélène Cixous


Born and raised in French Algeria, Assia Djebar and Hélène Cixous represent in their literary works signs of conflict and enmity, drawing on discordant histories so as to reappraise the political on the very basis of dissensus. In a rare comparison of these authors’ writings, this book shows how Cixous and Djebar consistently reclaim for ethical and political purposes the demarcations and dislocations emphasized in their fictions. Their works affirm the chance for thinking afforded by marginalization and exclusion and delineate political ways of preserving a space for difference informed by expropriation and non-belonging. Cixous’s inquiry is steeped in her formative encounter with the grudging integration of the Jews in French Algeria, while Djebar’s narratives concern the colonial separation of “French” and “Arab,” self and other. Yet both authors elaborate strategies to address inequality and injustice without resorting to tropes of victimization, challenging and transforming the understanding of the history and legacy of colonized space.

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