Mothers’ and Daughters’ Memories: The Palimpsest and Women’s Writing during the Algerian Civil War

Christina Brennan


Max Silverman’s Palimpsestic Memory describes a “transgenerational voice of memory” which may emerge from diverse histories of victimisation. This article will seek to expand upon how this “transgenerational voice” is significant within manifold cultural contexts through examining how the mother-daughter relationship is becoming increasingly prominent within recent Francophone women’s literature from Algeria. Within the fiction which reflects upon the destruction wrought by the Algeria’s civil crisis (c. 1992-1998), the mother-daughter bond connects women’s suffering during this “black decade” with the preceding War of Independence (1956-1962). Female protagonists in literary works by authors including Malika Mokeddem and Leila Marouane are inspired to challenge and resist civil upheaval and violence through recollecting and celebrating their mothers’ earlier resistance during the War of Independence. Presenting Mokeddem’s Of Dreams and Assassins and Marouane’s The Abductor as key texts, this article considers how the mother-daughter bond emerges as a literary theme which, through exemplifying the transnational emphasis on the associations between distinct atrocities, draws attention to female suffering within both Algerian wars, developing a productive and intercultural consciousness of female-specific suffering within multiple historical traumas.

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ISSN 1749-9771

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