Franco-Algerian memory and questions of gender in Ahmed Kalouaz’s Point Kilométrique 190 (1986)
This article suggests that gender and cultural memory are both performative acts and that memories of the colonial re-enact certain gender codes associated with the act of colonisation. Colonialism can be understood in terms of a gendered hierarchy: that the colonisers were imagined as virile and male, violating the virgin, ‘feminine’ territory of the colonised land. In this way, colonised peoples were gendered as feminine in order justify European rhetoric of racial superiority. However, the narratives of anti-colonial writers and thinkers who condemn colonialism, such as Frantz Fanon, are ‘haunted’ by gendered tropes of the colonialism – that colonisation is a rape, and that the colonised people are feminised victims. This article uses Ahmed Kalouaz’s 1986 novel Point Kilométrique 190 as an example of trans-national memory which successfully transcends these gendered stereotypes. The short novel functions as a mnemonic device (a commemoration to Habib Grimzi, a victim of anti- Algerian violence) which makes connections between racist violence in France during the 1980s with the history of the Algerian war. However, simultaneously, the narrative avoids gendered stereotypes associated with French and Algerian men and women. Using a French woman to posthumously voice a murdered Algerian man, Kalouaz creates a pluralistic narrative which shatters Algerian/French, Feminine/Masculine binaries and allows for the transfer of traumatic memory across boundaries assigned to gender identities, as well as national groups.
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