Remembering the (Post)Colonial Self: Memory and Identity in the Novels of Assia Djebar

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The globalisation of culture and the shifting nature of national identities have propelled the stakes of memory and identity to the forefront of current intellectual debates. In recent years, the works of the Algerian francophone author Assia Djebar have reflected a growing preoccupation with the role of memory in forging a sense of individual as well as collective identity. This study traces the interrelated motifs of memory and identity in Djebar's novels, arguing the centrality of these themes to her literary project. An interdisciplinary theoretical framework positions Djebar's corpus in the wider context of philosophical and psychoanalytical debates on memory and identity. Djebar reveals that much more is at stake in discussions of the interrelationship between memory and identity than concerns of a mere cultural nature. In postcolonial Algeria, repressed memories of Algeria's colonial past are revealed as instrumental to the genealogy of the current Algerian conflict; in this context, Djebar's poetics of memory become a `devoir de memoire', an appeal for a revised Algerian historiography in which the individual takes pride of place.