Foredrag af Madeleine Dobie på IKK

'World' Literature and the 'Global War on Terror' in Contemporary Algerian Culture

af Madeleine Dobie, professor, French Departement på Columbia University

In the 1990s and 2000s, Algerian writers and film-makers expanded an established repertoire of themes that included Algeria's colonial/postcolonial ties to France, the War of Independence, language politics, the fabric of national identity and the consequences of emigration/immigration to explore new issues raised in the context of the decade-long civil war. Violence, terrorism and the politics and social dimensions of Islamism became key topics for writers including Tahar Djaout, Yasmina Khadra, Assia Djebar, Boualem Sansal and Anouar Benmalek, and are central to films including Bab el oued, Rachida, Youcef, A quoi rêvent les loups, Des hommes et des dieux and l'Attentat (several of which are based on novels). This exploration has taken different forms, with some works focusing on the national context and analyzing the breakdown of civil society in 1990s Algeria, and others situating Algerian politics within the transnational framework of 'terrorism' and 'counterterrorism'. In this talk I consider the implications of these various representations of violence in and beyond the state. Examining  the interplay of the  'local' and the 'global', I explore connections between the concept of 'world literature'—the argument that literature is, in one sense or another a world system—and that of the 'global war on terror'—the perception that the United States and 'its allies' or 'the West' is involved in a long-term conflict with Islamist militants based in various countries and acting transnationally. For decades, Algerian writers who wrote in French attracted criticism for addressing a readership that is primarily French. Does the 'globalization' of subject matter alter this perceived economy of writing and reading? Are prominent Algerian writers and cinematographers now participating in a global literary marketplace? And if so, i what ways is their work inflected by the discourses of the 'global war on terror'.