At the end of French colonization in Algeria, four categories of people held French citizenship or had strong ties with France: European settlers, Jews, mixed-race individuals, and Harkis. The end of the War of Independence exiled most of them from Algeria, traumatized them in various ways, and transferred many to metropolitan France. Remnants of the Franco-Algerian Rupture: Archiving Postcolonial Minorities examines the legacies of these transnational identities through narratives that dissent from official histories, both in France and Algeria. This literature takes particular stories of exile and loss and constructs a memory around a Mosaic father figure embodying the native land, Algeria. Mona El Khoury argues that these filiation narratives create a postcolonial archive: a discursive foundation that makes historical minorities visible,while disrupting French and Algerian hegemonies. El Khoury questions the power of literature to repair history while contending that these literary strategies seek to do justice to the dead Algerian father, even as they valorize enduring minority identifications.
Mona El Khoury is assistant professor of French and Francophone literature at Tufts University.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: From Primal Scenes to the Other(’s) Archive: Mapping the (In)visibility of the Jews in Algeria through Memory. Hélène Cixous’ Les Rêveries de la femme sauvage
Chapter 3: The Construction of the “Harkive:” Giving a Voice to the Harki Moze by Zahia Rahmani
Chapter 4: The ‘Métis’ Predicament: Nina Bouraoui’s Embodied Memory of the Colonial Split
Chapter 5 “Aller Postcolonial – Retour Neocolonial”? The Ambiguous Memorial Reintegration of the Pieds-Noirs in Algeria: Boualem Sansal’s L’Enfant fou de l’arbre creux
Conclusion: Mosaic fathers and spectral truths
About the Author
Mona El Khoury’s monograph offers a fresh perspective on Franco-Algerian collective memory and history in the aftermath of the Algerian War of Independence. What distinguishes El Khoury’s study is her sustained focus on the legacy of four demographic groups (Algerian Jews, Harkis, métis, and Pieds-Noirs) whose identity stems from moments of colonial contact and separation and whose minority status can be defined numerically, legally, and/or in terms of power. Through a close reading of five novels, El Khoury proposes a case study of the fragmented collective memories of the aforementioned minority categories to demonstrate how literature can make these communities visible by reinserting them into a transnational history while simultaneously challenging national narratives derived from official historical archives.... Throughout her excellent consideration of Cixous’, Rahmani’s, Bouraoui’s, and Sansal’s novels, Mona El Khoury argues that the opening of the archive, both literally and figuratively, can only occur via the inclusion of minority discourses. Sansal’s text, in particular, contends that the future depends on the creation of solidarities between communities that are simultaneously connected and divided by the spectral remnants of French Algeria. Only then will the French and Algerian postcolonial imaginary supersede the colonial binaries of the past.
Mona El Khoury’s Remnants of the Algerian Rupture: Archiving Postcolonial Minorities is an important new study of four key novels reflecting on the memory and after-effects of the Algerian War of Independence from the perspective of its forgotten minorities. Addressing the ongoing omissions in official memory of the War, El-Khoury convincingly demonstrates how Hélène Cixous, Zahia Rahimi, Nina Bouraoui and Boualem Sansal ‘archive’ the under-represented experiences of Algerian Jews, Harkis, pieds-noirs and people of mixed race in subtle and suggestive literary texts that allow silenced voices to make themselves heard. This is an engaging and illuminating study that fills a significant gap in existing discourses on Algerian memory in France.
Mona El Khoury’s study of novels of the early 2000s by Hélène Cixous, Zahia Rahmani, Nina Bouraoui, and Boulam Sansal brings in neglected voices from the margins—Algerian Jews, harkis, métis, Pieds-Noirs—members of communities excluded from post-independence Algeria yet not truly at home in France. Probing the conflicted relationship between France and Algeria from the Algerian War of Independence to the Civil War (1991-2001), El Khoury charts the novelists’ attempts to restore dignity to fathers humiliated by a history of colonial oppression and its aftermath, thereby granting new perspectives on Algerian history, memory, identity. An excellent read!
In this beautifully composed study, Mona El Khoury brings out with precision the particularities of four prominent Algerian-born authors whose publications combine to create the aptly termed “postcolonial, minor archive,” a corpus that delves from a variety of angles into a problematic past that has far too often been repressed on both sides of the conflict. The ghost of colonial Algeria resurges in the writings of Hélène Cixous, Zahia Rahmani, Nina Bouraoui, and Boualem Sansal through the haunting figure of the absent father whose presence in the text allows for new expressions of memory, and new narrative beginnings that create solidarities.