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Critical Appropriations: one desert, three narratives

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This article uses the postcolonial focus on the situated spaces from which we all read our being, fixed for the moment by the coordinates of gender, race, religion, class, national and ethnic origin and language as a hermeneutic for interrogating tropes of the desert as culturally-situated, thus inevitably limited and partial. Three questions structure this investigation into the cultural and political investments revealed as land becomes landscape. First, how has the desert been constructed historically in diverse ways by not only Christians and Jews, but also by those who lived in the desert, most generally polytheistic and then Muslim nomads? Second, in what ways did this difference in interpretation get played out in the encounter between the colonizer and the people of North Africa? And third, how do these differences continue to structure, at a deeply embedded cultural level, competing postcolonial readings of the desert in North African texts?
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Keywords: Comparative Literature; Critical Theory; Desert; History & Fiction; Nomads; North Africa; Postcolonialism; Representation of Place

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-11-01

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  • The International Journal of Francophone Studies offers a critical preview for a new development in the understanding of 'France outside France', with a thorough insight into the network of disciplinary issues affiliated with this study. The journal complements the thriving area of scholarly interest in the French-speaking regions of the world, bringing a location of linguistic, cultural, historical and social dynamics within a single academic arena.
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