Maghrebian memories: Exodus and marginality in Sephardic women's writing

Date of Completion

January 2007


Literature, Modern|Literature, Romance|Women's Studies|History, General|Jewish Studies




This dissertation is an interdisciplinary study about a marginalized narrative in the Francophone postcolonial and Jewish historical and literary discourse. Voices that are just now starting to be heard as defining the silenced narrative of the forgotten refugees and exiled peoples from Arab lands, focusing here on the Sephardic Jews North Africa, appropriate a place in the discourse that so far has excluded them. Concentrating on contemporary Jewish women writers' textual preoccupations with marginality, exodus, silence, memory and identity as experienced in the colonial an postcolonial period in the Maghreb and France, a unique human experience is revealed and contextualized within the greater Jewish history and heritage. The complex relationships between Jews ("European" and "Oriental"), Arabs and the French colonists are analyzed in an attempt to understand how this postcolonial Other has been denied an active part in writing this complex chapter in modern history. The politics of memory and exclusion of this always, already, "Other" that the Jew represents are examined in an attempt to understand how the complete and silent exodus of Jews from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria has been eclipsed by other dominant narratives of colonized, displaced, persecuted and exiled peoples. It is hoped that inscribing the experiences of the Jews of North Africa, and specifically that of its women, into a larger postcolonial discourse may contribute to an increased awareness of an otherwise nominally understood history.^