Body Besieged

Body Besieged : The Embodiment of Historical Memory in Nina Bouraoui and Leila Sebbar

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The Body Beseiged: The Embodiment of Historical Memory in Nina Bouraoui and Leila Sebbar by Helen Vassallo analyzes the enduring legacy of the Algerian War of Independence by setting in dialogue the work of two contemporary Franco-Algerian writers, Nina Bouraoui and Leila Sebbar. It uses the concept of "embodied memory" to examine the correlation between history and autobiography, drawing on theories of exile, wounding, embodiment, and remembrance to expose fractures in the Franco-Algerian relationship in an era of commemoration and reconciliation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 180 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 430.91g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739171429
  • 9780739171424

Review quote

Helen Vassallo's perceptive comparative study of Leila Sebbar and Nina Bouraoui reveals how both Franco-Algerian writers have used autobiographical introspection and historical inquiry into collective memory to transform a sense of 'deterritorialization' or exclusion from both communities, into 'reterritorialization,' new community connections that allow each to find her specific place in the world. This critical study is a must read for all students and scholars of postcolonial literature. -- Mildred Mortimer, University of Colorado Fifty years on from France's multiply traumatic war of decolonization in Algeria, the fragmented memories and fractured identities generated by that conflict continue to exert a powerful influence on the lived reality of individuals and communities on both sides of the Mediterranean. As recent events in Toulouse have all too tragically illustrated, the personally embodied wounds of an unresolved colonial past still haunt contemporary Franco-Algerian relationships and mindsets. In this incisive new study, Helen Vassallo guides us insightfully and incisively through this contested political and cultural terrain. Her sensitive interrogation of the autobiographical writings of Nina Bouraoui and Leila Sebbar thus charts a much-needed passage through the Franco-Algerian memorial labyrinth, revealing how individually embodied difference may offer an antidote to collective amnesia, and how new forms of self-knowledge may provide a solution to the communal displacements of the past. This new book is therefore as timely as it is necessary. It deserves to be widely read and is likely to be much discussed. -- Philip Dine, National University of Ireland, Galway and author of Images of the Algerian War: French Fiction and Film, 1954-1992 The Body Besieged represents a timely study of the works of two key Franco-Algerian women writers. Analyzing the textual embodiment of historical and autobiographical memory in their writings, Helen Vassallo produces a series of new and fruitful readings. -- Siobhan McIlvanney, King's College, London Helen Vassallo provides us with a fascinating comparative analysis of two contemporary Franco-Algerian women writers, in an innovative and rich, yet very accessible and readable, study of a number of their recent autobiographical writings. The book covers an impressive range of topics-from the lived experience of exile and ethnicity to the role of language and the creative possibilities of writing-at the heart of which lie memory and identity, and the still difficult legacy of Franco-Algerian relations. In the current climate of strained ethnic relations in France and social and political change in North Africa, this is a very topical, important and interesting work to read, which should be of interest to a wide audience. -- Jo McCormack, University of Sunderland, UK
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About Helen Vassallo

Helen Vassallo is Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Exeter, UK. Her primary research interests are in autobiography, illness narratives, and legacies of conflict.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements Introduction: Nina Bouraoui and Leila Sebbar, Embodying the Trauma of "Algeria Lost" Chapter 1: Embodying a Fractured Identity: Writing on the Divide in Nina Bouraoui's Garcon manque and La Vie heureuse Chapter 2: The Embodiment of Environment: Re-thinking Alienation and Re-constructing Identity in Nina Bouraoui's Poupee Bella and Mes Mauvaises Pensees Chapter 3: The Pain of Algeria Remembered: Vestiges of Algeria in Exile. Leila Sebbar's Lettres parisiennes: Histoires d'exil and Journal de mes Algeries en France Chapter 4: A Linguistic Alienation: Finding an Affiliation to Arabic in French. Leila Sebbar's Je ne parle pas la langue de mon pere and L'arabe comme un chant secret Conclusion: Sites of Embodied Memory: Towards the Possibility of "Algeria Regained" Bibliography Index About the Author
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