(Re)constructing female identity in a post-colonial context: The cases of Algerian writers Nina Bouraoui and Leila Marouane

Mina Ait'MBark (The Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Authors from Algeria have always been at the cross-roads between different cultures, and thus a primary tendency of the literature coming from Algeria was to try and define, and even ultimately give birth to what could be seen and recognised as a specific "Algerian" writing. Within the traditional Algerian society (i.e. the Arab Muslim society), women suffered a double restraint on their being heard.

As both men and women literature in Algeria started alongside each other during the independence war against France, women's identity was then very much defined within the parameters of a mainly French "metropolitan" readership. Therefore, as V. Orlando states: "these authors find themselves at the intersection of French and North African feminist viewpoints, exposing a complicated world that must be re-negotiated and re-defined."

Our paper will show how both La voyeuse interdite by Nina Bouraoui and La fille de la Casbah by Leila Marouane, first texts of their authors and first person narratives, disentangle the complexities of female identity in the context of a post-independence Algeria. Moreover, we will reflect on the fact that identification and naming women publicly or as individuals in the Muslim city are problematic and significant of their place within its confines. Thus both authors symbolically re-appropriate the city of Algiers (where both novels take place). Its "feminisation" reflects the tensions of finding a voice within the post-colonial literature that is emerging today from Algeria.

Postcolonial OV discourseov Casablanca Conference

Last modified: 7 May 2001