The kaleidoscope of gendered memory in Ahlam Mosteghanemi’s Chaos of the senses and Memory in the flesh

Baaqeel, Nuha (2017) The kaleidoscope of gendered memory in Ahlam Mosteghanemi’s Chaos of the senses and Memory in the flesh. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This study demonstrates how Ahlam Mosteghanemi’s novels Chaos of the Senses (1998) and Memory in the Flesh (1985) reveal the complexity of Algerian history through gendered perspectives, specifically through narratives of gendered memory. In these novels gendered memory is expressed through memories of trauma, and personal and collective art, as well as narratives of national histories. Through the use of a kaleidoscopic methodology, this study analyses two antithetical gendered reactions to trauma that later interweave into a polyphony of perspectives, which help to redefine a new sense of the Algerian nation. Mosteghanemi’s literary techniques of employing dual narratives, as well as her presentation of multiple modes of art and perspectives on nation, are shaped by trauma, which is patterned in the novels as a mosaic. This study analyses the mosaic of gender, trauma, memory, history and art as a way to define the role of gendered memory in presenting history. From the perspective of postcolonial literature and theory, Mosteghanemi’s texts importantly reveal the role of trauma in the development of postcolonial discourse and what trauma discourse reveals about actual history in its relation to art and nation, thereby demonstrating the influence of trauma on literature, rather than simply a representation of trauma through literature, or mere mimesis. The novels further demonstrate the ways in which trauma can be expressed both as a literary project, and as a politicalized act of nation-building through literature. The novels’ two main protagonists, the man, Khaled, who fails to process the trauma of the past, and the woman, Ahlam/Hayat, who displays greater resilience and will to overcome personal and national trauma, represent dual, gendered visions which are expressed through extended metaphors that plead for more political and historical awareness in contemporary Algeria. These gendered responses to the violence that occurred before, during, and after the Algerian War of Independence appear in the novels as the kaleidoscopic and polyphonic ways in which Mosteghanemi constructs her narratives. These narratives importantly refuse a binary opposition of male versus female and engage instead with the complexity of Algeria’s specific postcolonial history, thereby avoiding exotic or reductive representations of Algeria. Ultimately, I argue that Mosteghanemi’s work seeks to construct a bridge between contrasting, gendered narratives about past and present Algerian politics and historical traumas. Her work thus underscores the importance of analysing the trauma of other nations through their personal and collective, as well as gendered, memories, offering postcolonial literary scholars a new methodology for understanding different postcolonial cultures through their conflicting histories and traumatic experiences.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures > PQ0001 French literature > PQ3809 French literature outside of France > PQ3897 Colonies and countries other than European > PQ3988.5.A5 Algeria
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2017 13:22
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:49

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