Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



This project examines the question of memory and cross-cultural identities in the context of diasporic cultures, focusing in particular on the works of two Algerian women: Fadhma Amrouche and her daughter Taos Amrouche. Both occupy a unique position in Maghrebian literature. Precursors of women’s writing in Algeria, their works reflect the experience of exile and displacement, and the shift from orality to the written word, from artistic creation to preservation of cultural patrimony, from identity crisis to a quest of one’s own cultural identity. Women writers at this time were marginalized and Fadhma’s and Taos’ marginalization appear as threefold. Firstly, they belong to a Berber ethnic minority in a country that is mainly Arab. Secondly, from a religious point of view, they are Christian in a predominantly Muslim country. Finally, Fadhma’s and Taos’ French education enables them to pass from a traditional oral culture to the written culture of men and as a consequence to experience cultural alienation in the process. This study explores how both authors articulate through writing, a “mémoire” of the sufferings and desires of Berber women in a society that has repressed their voices or has confined them to the domain of the spoken. French colonial occupation of Algeria radically changed women’s lives. Colonial officials and European settlers manipulated representations of Algerian women - both visual and textual – to suit the needs of imperialist designs. Women were often viewed as victims: silent, veiled, submissive and oppressed. This tendency to represent women as victims reinforced the colonizer’s belief that Algerian culture was backward. This study considers Fadhma’s and Taos’ texts as response to the destructive colonial practice of fictionalizing native women’s lives. Autobiographical writing provides a site from which they can assert their subjectivity, a site of resistance in a context of colonial and cultural oppression. In these women’s texts, we examine the various ways that gender, ethnicity, race, class and religious affiliation intersect and shape their lives, and explore their various strategies of negotiation and resistance to dominant and oppressive discourses.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Nathaniel Wing