Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


The Maghreb, the World and the Text (461) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of Massachusetts-Boston (USA)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Claudia Esposito

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: This panel examines literatures affiliated with the Maghreb and the contiguous space of Gibraltar within the transnational, situated framework of the contemporary Mediterranean. Taking as a point of departure Abdelkebir Khatibi’s pensée-autre, a theoretical approach that seeks to dismantle binary grids of interpretation and rethink relations of power, the following contributions recuperate the often silenced plurilingualism of literatures from the Maghreb. In so doing, the longstanding tension between writing in Arabic versus writing in French is placed in direct dialogue with writing in Spanish, Catalan and Italian, wresting the question of linguistic choice from its status as a perpetual object of disquiet. Together with attention to issues of language, this panel proposes to reframe questions of radical alterity, memory, migration and cosmopolitanism in the Mediterranean, a space that is increasingly at the forefront of literary as well as geopolitical debates. Contesting the rhetoric of empire, old and new, the literary texts in question in this panel call for a ‘worlding’ of Maghrebi literature, that is to say a practice of reading that underscores affiliative connections between disparate and heterogeneous cultural spaces.

Chair: Claudia Esposito (University of Massachusetts-Boston)

Marta Segarra (University of Barcelona)

Paper presenter: Edwige Tamalet-Talbayev (Yale University) “Writing Diversality in the Gibraltarian Contact Zone”
Tamalet-Talbayev examines the collaborative work of Gibraltarian poet Trino Cruz and Tetuanese painter Ahmed Ben Yessef. Offering a fractal perspective informed by his dialectical relation to his cultural and locational identity, Cruz proposes a vision of Euro-Mediterranean relations that displaces the framing of the sea along the lines of capitalist exploitation and cultural division between North and South. Rewriting modes of belonging lying outside of the territoriality of the nation, Cruz directly situates himself in circumstances of ontological exile, which provides him with the defamiliarization necessary to experience global modernity from a position of ‘exteriority’ (Mignolo). Drawing on Walter Mignolo’s concept of ‘diversality’ as a ‘critical’ form of cosmopolitanism, this paper examines Cruz's poetry in its engagement with globalization through the consideration of the polizón (clandestine migrant) as the epitome of the global subject. To that aim, Edwige Tamalet-Talbayev investigates Cruz’s aesthetics of mirroring. Through the mediation of Ben Yessef’s symbolism of the dove, Cruz delineates an alternative epistemology of illusion, which assimilates the poetic persona to a polizón alter ego. It is on this identification that his conception of a revised form of cosmopolitanism rests, one critical of the dominant dynamics of abjection underlying the global stage of capitalism.

Paper presenter: Hakim Abderrezak (University of Minnesota) “Smuggling Documented ''Ilegales'' in Boualem Sansal's ''Harraga'' and Fawzi Mellah's ''Clandestin en Méditerranée''” Further investigating the figure of the migrant, suggests that since the 1990s there has been a sharp increase in literary accounts that center around clandestine migration from North Africa to destinations across the western Mediterranean. The prevalence of this theme coincides with the ‘militarisation’ or ‘fortification’ of the Mediterranean, which has forced migrants to travel along clandestine routes. As Jørgen Carling states, ‘unauthorized border-crossing in the Mediterranean region has received extensive media coverage but little academic attention.’ In this paper, Abderrezak starts by assessing the place, status and function that Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian fictional works about clandestine migration have recently taken. The focus of the paper will be on two texts, Algerian Boualem Sansal’s Harraga (2005) and Tunisian Fawzi Mellah’s Clandestin en Méditerranée (2000) in light of literary works done in other national languages, including Spanish, produced by Spaniards and Maghrebis alike. Abderrezak shows that a considerable number of accounts of clandestine migration across disciplinary and national lines, such as Sansal’s and Mellah’s, aim at denouncing and offering alternative accounts to the growing popular criminalization of the figure of the clandestine migrant in the region.

Paper presenter: Cristián Ricci (University of California-Merced) “Defining New Trends of Amazighness in the Works of Saïd El Kadaoui and Najat El Hachmi”
Further contributes to the panel''s approach of ''worlding the Maghreb' as he explores how amazighness is being represented in the works of Euro-imazighen writers Saïd El Kadaoui and Najat El Hachmi. Imazighen have always offered a portrayal of what should be a North African Amazigh nation, but more importantly, Amazigh culture has always been the cradle of secularism and universalism. In this paper, based on works by Abdelkébir Khatibi and Mohamed Mesbahi, Ricci explores how the literature written by the above mentioned Imazighen authors rejects the idea of ''Morocanness'', while at the same time disengaging the values imposed by the Muslim society ''so theological, so charismatic, so patriarchal'' (Khatibi) by endorsing what Khatibi translates as ''the mise en abyme of theological order''. In this regard, Ricci concentrates on how these young authors reconstruct their identities though complex, controversial and contradictory literary and hybridizing processes of marginal and borderland literatures, aware that the colonial difference of the ''borderland enunciating subject' (Mignolo) is not only uttered through a resisting and dissenting discourse, but is also materialized in the literary representation of the pain and anger of their ''fractured'' stories, of their memories, and of their subjectivities.

Paper presenter: Claudia Esposito (University of Massachusetts-Boston) “Addio Farança: Theorizing New Idioms”
Finally, taking the case of Maghrebi writers fluent in French but who write in Italian as a case study for a ''new'' plurilingualism of Maghrebi Literature.
Theorizing New Idioms, addresses issues of transnationalism and multilingualism in Abdemalek Smari's L'occidentalista (2008) and Amara Lakhous' Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio (2006). Both these narratives are part of an increasingly fertile terrain of literary production that calls into question the hegemony of French as the European language par excellence of literature written by authors of Maghrebi origin. Esposito''s paper draws on theories of language and culture proposed by Khatibi and Derrida to underscore the state of play, already inherent in language itself, of multiple idioms used to represent and create shifting cultural referents present in the aforementioned novels. Furthermore, as their titles indicate, these works effect a twenty-first century rewriting of longstanding theories of Orientalism and of a ''clash of civilizations'', models that remain alive and thriving not only in Berlusconi''s Italy but in the wider Mediterranean today.