Inscriptions of the Self in Exile: Malika Mokeddem’s “La Transe des insoumis”

By Christa Jones.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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This paper examines the implications of exile in Malika Mokeddem’s autobiographical text La Transe des insoumis (2003). Through a close reading, I aim to explore how exile calls into question tradition and family genealogy, ultimately resulting in a break from traditional values and family. In this highly nomadic narrative, the narrator navigates between two worlds, revisits past and present, probes her origins and aspirations, ponders her past, and wonders what is to become of her as a fully-fledged writer. For Mokeddem, exile and a break from family and tradition are necessary to achieve mobility, as well as physical and financial autonomy. However, she comes to realize that she cannot return “home” and settle in Algeria after more than a decade in France, as she has become alienated from her family tribe. The text illustrates this insurmountable rift caused by exile, in alternating chapters entitled “Ici” (here) and “Là-bas” (there). Jumping back and forth between her past—her childhood and adolescence in the Algerian desert (“Là-bas”)—and her present, tumultuous and crisis-ridden life in France (“Ici”), she seeks to come to terms with the loss of family and territory, and to map out a new life for herself in France.

Keywords: Exile, Nomadism, Identity, Postcolonialism, Autobiography, Maghreb, France

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 12, pp.183-190. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 489.660KB).

Dr. Christa Jones

Correspondent, AFX News Ltd., University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, USA

Christa Jones is Assistant Professor of French and German at the University of Nebraska at Kearney where she specializes in contemporary French and Francophone literature. She received her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006. Her dissertation and research interests focus on the topic of exile, nomadism, and identity in Maghrebian Francophone women writers, in particular the works of Assia Djebar, Leïla Sebbar, and Malika Mokeddem. She has investigated related topics in recent publications, including trauma studies in Dalhousie French Studies, and links between autobiography and fiction in Francophone Literature, in Problématiques identitaires et discours de l’exil dans les littératures francophones (Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa, 2007).

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