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No more silencing the past: firstgeneration immigrant women as bricoleuses de mémoire in Parle mon fils parle à ta mère and Fatima ou les Algériennes au square by Leïla Sebbar

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According to Gérard Noiriel, immigrants have almost no place in the national memory of France, which seems to deny that its colonial past is inextricably linked to its current situation regarding North African immigrants and their descendants. In Parle mon fils parle à ta mere (1985) and Fatima ou les Algériennes au square (1981), Leïla Sebbar places North African immigrant women at the forefront of her narratives. These women construct memory as bricolage, using bits and pieces from their past, and confer it as a legacy to their children, who in turn absorb it or reject it along with the influence of French culture. The women thus reweave unofficial history; this places them in the shadow of the official ‘grave-keepers’ of memory. In so doing, their places in the margins of society can be viewed as ‘radical spaces of openness’ rather than closed spaces of victimization.

Keywords: Beur; Leïla Sebbar; bricolage; first-generation North African immigrants; lieux de mémoire; memory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Samford University

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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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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