France and the Maghreb:
Performative Encounters

Mireille Rosello

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"A thought-provoking, illuminating and innovative contribution to Francophone literary studies. . . . Rosello applies her usually keen eye for close analysis to a corpus of recent texts by Algerian and French writers . . . masterfully demonstrating the importance of the concept of performative encounters that she develops in the book."--Anne Donadey, San Diego State University

Looking at writers, directors, and thinkers who are linked to the Maghreb, Mireille Rosello argues that new types of encounters between the French and the Algerians have the potential to counteract the negative force of history. She maintains that these “performative” encounters are moments of fragile and precarious exchange that could shift the tragic paradigm of violence and mistrust among Arabs, Berbers, and Europeans or among Christians, Muslims, and Jews.

A performative encounter between historical adversaries creates new subject-positions, a new language, and a new protocol of cohabitation, she contends. Performance encounters inaugurate a new historical script. At such times subjects can redefine each other, and they can speak not in French or Arabic but in a language similar to Khatibi's poetical and interstitial “bilanguage” that reexamines the terms and practices of their interaction.

Attentive to the interconnections among language, gender, literature, and cultural politics, Rosello looks at a rich variety of contemporary stories generated by historians (Benjamin Stora, Mohamed Harbi, Charles-Robert Ageron), philosophers (Jacques Derrida), filmmakers (Yamina Benguigui, Mehdi Lallaoui), and emerging and internationally famous writers (Fouad Laroui, Mehdi Charef, Abdelkebir Khatibi). She devotes special consideration to an innovative analysis of the work of one of the most important contemporary French-language writers, Assia Djebar.

Mireille Rosello, professor of French and comparative literary studies at Northwestern University, is the author of three books in French and three in English, most recently Postcolonial Hospitality: The Immigrant as Guest.
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…a book of cool analysis, but, too, of implicit passion, and one that invites vision and creation beyond and within the space of literature. Dalhousie French Studies

" This erudite but accessible study provides an insightful and always stimulating reading of both well-studied and lesser-known writtings and films.It also questions the gaze that academics and others have cast on Franco-North African encounters and encourages a refreshing self-reflexivity." International Journal of Francophone Studies

"Informed by a deep engagement to North Africa and is as interesting to ethnographers and scholars of performance as it is to students of literature and culture." International Journal of Middle East Studies

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