Title

Sexual Fluidity and Movements in Abdellah Taïa's L'armée du salut; The Birth of a Queer Moroccan Francophone Identity

Campus

Gainesville

Publication date

6-2021

Publisher

Lexington Books

Book or Journal Information

In this first edited collection in English on Abdellah Taïa, Denis M. Provencher and Siham Bouamer frame the distinctiveness of the Moroccan author’s migration by considering current scholarship in French and Francophone studies, post-colonial studies, affect theory, queer theory, and language and sexuality. In contrast to critics that consider Taïa to immigrate and integrate successfully to France as a writer and intellectual, Provencher and Bouamer argue that the author’s writing is replete with elements of constant migration, “comings and goings,” cruel optimism, flexible accumulation of language over borders, transnational filiations, and new forms of belonging and memory making across time and space. At the same time, his constantly evolving identity emerges in many non-places, defined as liminal and border narrative spaces where unexpected and transgressive new forms of belonging emerge without completely shedding shame, mourning, or melancholy.

Abstract

In his third novel, Salvation Army, published in France in 2006, Taïa pursues his use of autofiction, a style of writing that is very much favored by many French authors and gives the reader a poignant account of some of the most important relationships he has had in his life. The novel tells the story of Abdellah’s journey to Geneva to pursue his graduate studies, and the struggles he encounters during his first few days in this city, but also of happier times in Morocco. Through the prism of Queer Theory, I argue that movement, whether it be through the author’s writing, the temporal movement between the present of the novel and the flashbacks in Morocco or the geographical movement, contributes to the creation of a queer Moroccan identity. I first propose to look at the movement in the writing of the novel, and how the changes in pronouns in each of the three parts of the novel are an integral part in the creation of this queer identity. I then look at the chronological movement, with the incessant back and forth between the present of the novel, the chapters in Geneva, and the past, represented by the chapters in Morocco, and how this temporal movement participates in the creation of Abdellah’s identity as a queer identity. Finally, the geographical movement also informs this queer identity. In Salvation Army, a great deal of attention is brought to the description and importance of the different places where Abdellah moves and interacts with other characters.

Author Biography

Olivier Le Blond is Associate Professor of French at the University of North Georgia (UNG). A graduate of SUNY Buffalo, his dissertation explored the emergence of a queer Moroccan literature through the works of Rachid O., Abdellah Taïa and Bahaa Trabelsi. Dr. Le Blond has published in The French Review, Nouvelles Études Francophone, and Women’s Studies International Forum. He also has a chapter in the edited volume Éduquer en pays dominé that explores the use of the Arab male body in French ethnic pornography, and sees it as a locus of resistance against colonialism. In addition to his research, he co-authored the textbook used in UNG's elementary French courses. At UNG, he is committed to creating a safer campus for students and faculty of the LGBTQIA+ community through his involvement in the Safe Zone Committee, promoting, organizing and leading Safe Zone Trainings. He is also an active member of the university’s Gender Studies Council, a council created to promote gender-related events as well as the Gender Studies minor to the student community. His research interests include but are not limited to: gender studies, same-sex representations in French and Francophone literature, pop culture, etc.

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Sexual Fluidity and Movements in Abdellah Taïa's L'armée du salut; The Birth of a Queer Moroccan Francophone Identity

In his third novel, Salvation Army, published in France in 2006, Taïa pursues his use of autofiction, a style of writing that is very much favored by many French authors and gives the reader a poignant account of some of the most important relationships he has had in his life. The novel tells the story of Abdellah’s journey to Geneva to pursue his graduate studies, and the struggles he encounters during his first few days in this city, but also of happier times in Morocco. Through the prism of Queer Theory, I argue that movement, whether it be through the author’s writing, the temporal movement between the present of the novel and the flashbacks in Morocco or the geographical movement, contributes to the creation of a queer Moroccan identity. I first propose to look at the movement in the writing of the novel, and how the changes in pronouns in each of the three parts of the novel are an integral part in the creation of this queer identity. I then look at the chronological movement, with the incessant back and forth between the present of the novel, the chapters in Geneva, and the past, represented by the chapters in Morocco, and how this temporal movement participates in the creation of Abdellah’s identity as a queer identity. Finally, the geographical movement also informs this queer identity. In Salvation Army, a great deal of attention is brought to the description and importance of the different places where Abdellah moves and interacts with other characters.