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Date & Time

Monday, March 27, 2017
4:30 PM


Centers for Gender/Race Studies, Community Room (105)


Free and open to the public

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Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality


While transnational processes, globalisation, and migratory movement continue to produce multiple forms of biopolitical domination within and across geopolitical borders, the concomitant deconstruction and delocalisation of borders is similarly producing radical transformations of political subjectivity, citizenship, and sovereignty no longer confined to the borders of the nation-state. This paper examines representations of dissident sexuality emerging in contemporary life writing, memoir, and autobiography written in French by a new generation of gay and lesbian authors from the Maghreb, where long-established traditions pertaining to sexual alterity are brought into contact with new forms of gender and sexual identity following the experience of emigration and settlement by the writers concerned in Europe. The paper analyses and interrogates issues around linguistic, cultural, and sexual difference and how selected texts by such authors as Rachid O. and Abdellah Taïa (Morocco), Eyet Chékib Djaziri (Tunisia), and Nina Bouraoui (Algeria) foreground translation and narrative reflexivity around incommensurable spaces of queerness in order to index their negotiations of multiple languages, histories, cultures, and publics. By writing in French, for example, the writers discussed are not merely mimicking the language of their former colonisers, but inflecting a European language with vocabularies and turns of phrase indigenous to North African cultures, thereby creating new possibilities of meaning and expression to name their lived experience of sexual dissidence which cannot be expressed in Arabic, indeed a form of (queer) translational praxis itself within the postcolonial frame. These highly complex translational and political strategies demonstrate that Maghrebian spaces of sexual dissidence are increasingly inflected by globally-circulating discourses and embodiments of queerness while simultaneously destabilising cultural norms around gender, sexuality, and national belonging both within North Africa and in the West. The paper concludes by addressing how migration to Europe does not necessarily bring (sexual) liberation, given that the movement from the postcolony to the West comes with a new set of borders with which to negotiate, often marked by racial and class differentials and by shifting postcolonial and post-immigration conditions prevalent in Europe today.

William J Spurlin is Professor of English and Director of Teaching and Learning for Arts & Humanities at Brunel University London. Professor Spurlin has written extensively on the politics of gender and sexual dissidence and is widely known for his work in postcolonial queer studies and for examining sexuality as a significant vector of social organisation and cultural arrangement in colonial and postcolonial Africa.

This event is free and open to the public.