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Title:Cultural identity from 'habitus' to 'au-delà': Leïla Sebbar encounters her Algerian father
Author:Redfield, James AdamISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Algeria
literary criticism
interviews (form)
About person:Leïla Sebbar (1941-)ISNI
Abstract:The author situates this interview with Franco-Algerian author Leïla Sebbar regarding her 2003 fictionalized memoir 'Je ne parle pas la langue de mon père' (I don't speak my father's language) as Sebbar's response to the transition between colonial and postcolonial spaces of cultural identity. Whereas Bourdieu's habitus locates passive cultural identities in a rigidly hermetic space, structured by dualisms that are reminiscent of colonial dominance, Bhabha's introduction of the postcolonial beyond re-animates these identities through resistance to - and movement across - their boundaries. Sebbar and the author examine how the internal ruptures of her personal narrative empower her to travel both within and across the spaces of her childhood's colonial-era, habitus-like identities ('French'/'Algerian', 'non'-/'Muslim', 'wo'/'man'). To some extent, such dualisms retain definitional dominance today by providing the terms upon which resistance is founded. Yet Sebbar's distinctive vision, her narration liberated from an anchored I or eye, exposes connections across her identities' internal boundaries, yielding, in turn, unexpected correspondences between the split signs we call our selves. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]