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Between 'porte-parole' and 'porte-mémoire': Assia Djebar's cinematic voice in the Maghreb

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This article studies the roles of women as guardians of cultural heritage and national identity, which they preserve and transmit to the younger generations. While their role as 'porte-mmoire' has been recognized as key to preserving national identity, their story as warriors is sacrificed. This study argues that this sacrifice was made in order to uphold male honour as the guardians and defenders of the nation, and to hide the story of rape in colonial prisons, which signifies a direct assault on male honour. Assia Djebar's novels and films position her as the woman who can now write about those who could not, as the 'porte-parole' who worked to eternalize the story that orality failed to transmit. The analysis of La Nouba des femmes du mont Chenoua (1978) shows how Djebar creates a space for voices to be heard, as she defeats the eternal silence which threatens the existence of her women compatriots.
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Keywords: empowerment; memory; orality; porte-mémoire; porte-parole; storytelling; voice; womens narratives

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Manchester

Publication date: 2012-08-13

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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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