Appel à articles : “The Contemporary Roman Maghrébin : Aesthetics, Politics, Production” — LIMITE : 01/09/2014
Contemporary French & Francophone Studies: SITES
Call for Papers
The Contemporary Roman Maghrébin: Aesthetics, Politics, Production
This issue returns to Abdelkébir Khatibi’s influential text Le Roman maghrébin (1968) and asks where the roman maghrébin is now. Khatibi’s analysis situates the ‘Maghrebian’ novel within its social and political contexts while highlighting the critical importance of aesthetics, what he calls un ensemble d’attitudes, a writing that appropriates, in its own way, its political and social contexts. Placing the emphasis mainly on francophone writing in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia he notes how the novelists of the 1950s and 1960s (such as Driss Chraïbi, Kateb Yacine, Albert Memmi) are united by the common conviction that what they have to say about these new or prospective nations, and the legacies of colonization, was important. Their work was a contribution to the revolutionary process of decolonization.
Khatibi expresses a sense that the wars of decolonisation, in particular the war in Algeria, gave these writers a platform and content. Though the Maghrebian francophone novel, writes Khatibi, was welcomed by the French Left for the insights it provided into the ‘North African situation’ it also allowed these writers to usefully exploit the circuits of France’s cultural infrastructure. At the same time, Khatibi advocates the construction of forms of national culture across North Africa that would break unilateral ties with France and establish new cultural relations and networks with what was then called the ‘Third World’.
The formation of these new national cultures raises, for Khatibi, a range of issues such as whether the work of a writer from North Africa who has been living in France for more than ten years could still be considered to be part of ‘la littérature maghrébine’. Nevertheless, aware of the diversity of writers, and the range of their points de departs, Khatibi is alive to the themes they had in common – societal transformation, acculturation, rupture, revolt and the universal themes of love, hate and jealousy – as well as a privileged mode of expression – the autobiographical. However, Khatibi proposes that a literature based on ‘witnessing’ needs to be re-assessed. Following Barthes, Khatibi argues that it is not so much writing as a medium of content that matters but writing as content.
And what of the Maghrebian novel today? If Khatibi is concerned to ask what meaning the novel might have for North Africans in 1968 the question is of equal relevance today. If the roman maghrébin were to continue the revolution by other means in the 1960s, can the same be said of the contemporary novel across the Maghreb today? Does the revolutionary project of decolonisation have relevance to cultural production before, during and after the Arab Spring? For some the roman maghrébin continues to be about the construction of the national, the pursuit of the allusive national allegory. For others it is about the universal in terms of avant-garde aesthetics and themes that transcend the national. Khatibi asks, in 1968, what can the Maghrebian writer who writes in French do but ‘courir vers sa propre mort?’ (p. 112). Nearly 50 years later the francophone Magrebian novel has not faded away but is in good health in the face of successive policies of Arabization and, today, Amazight cultural resurgence. Why is this so? And to what extent is it supported by independent publishing houses (such as Barzakh in Algeria, Elyzad in Tunisia, La Croisée des Chemins in Morocco)? Has the roman magrébin evolved in terms of aesthetics? Whither to now?
Drawing on questions raised by Khatibi in relation to the roman maghrébin this thematic issue welcomes contributions that attend to the following topics in ways that go beyond an analysis of a single writer:
National literatures in North Africa and the role of the state
National consciousness and globalization
Is there a Maghrebian novel?
The roman maghrébin, revolutionary legacies and the Arab Spring
Islamism and the roman maghrébin
New (and old) independent publishing houses across North Africa and their impact
Autobiographical mode and roman maghrébin
The witness as focal point and selling point
Aesthetics and the roman maghrébin.
The roman maghrébin: new writers, old themes?
Is there an avant-garde today?
The politics of language in the contemporary roman maghrébin (French, Arabic, Tamazight but also in other European languages such as Spanish and Italian)
The politics of readership in North Africa and its diaspora
Editors: Roger Célestin, Patrick Crowley, Eliane DalMolin, Megan MacDonald
Abstracts of 400 words to be submitted to Dr Patrick Crowley (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 1 2014. Accepted articles to be submitted by September 1 2015. Publication in February 2016.