Shuttling the archive: Mediterranean crossings, impossible mourning, ghostly navettes
MacDonald, Megan Catherine
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In this dissertation project I look at the politics of memory and mourning as read through the trope of the archive. In doing this, I use the navette or shuttle as a form of transit and as a reading methodology in order to travel on and between texts. The navette is also a weaving metaphor, connecting textures and tissues of sometimes disparate texts that are brought together with this movement. There are two parts to my project, each containing two chapters. The chapters work in tandem, where the first chapter of each part deals with a male drama, and the second chapter of each part explores a more feminized terrain. This is an interdisciplinary project whose main focus is francophone postcolonial textual output from France and the Maghreb. Each chapter draws from questioning the archive: its creation or destruction and its methods of surveillance. A reading shuttle traces the outlines of multiple archives in and around the Mediterranean basin, which is both a linguistic and geographic area. My final aim in this project is to bring together three archives of three almost-disciplines: feminism (French or otherwise); deconstruction; and postcolonial theory. I stage a revival of all three by putting them into contact with one another in new ways. Departures and Arrivals are always in question, and always shifting in the text. Part II displaces questions of veiling in Part I, moving to the space of mourning and witnessing, of multiple burials and impossible mourning. Both Part I and Part II of my project address the silences inherent in the archive. In Part I Chapter One, I read the UNESCO intangible heritage project in a postcolonial frame, an archive housed in the center of France and expanding outward. In Part I Chapter Two I trace methods of inclusion and exclusion in the postcolonial nation-state on and around the Islamic headscarf or hijab in postcolonial France. In Part II Chapter Three, I explore the Holocaust as it relates to the Algerian Civil War in Boualem Sansal's novel Le Village de l'Allemand , where the politics of memory and bearing witness are revealed to be impossible sites of habitation. Finally, I arrive in Part II Chapter Four at a consultation and confrontation between Gayatri Spivak and Assia Djebar. I track the ways both Spivak and Djebar traffic in 'identifications': Spivak through her reading of Djebar's work and avowed fidelity to deconstruction and feminism, and Djebar through her re-dressing of the dead in francophone postcolonial texts from the Maghreb, specifically Le Blanc de l'Algérie . The persistence of memory characterizes my project. Bringing together feminism, deconstruction, and postcoloniality as archives is a method for re-imagining all three sites only through their interactions, tensions, relations and resistances with one another. La francophonie itself is revealed as a specifically postcolonial archive, as I conclude with Assia Djebar's introduction to a bilingual dictionary, which lists French words of Arabic origin in both French and Arabic. Both the Maghreb and France become haunted sites in a melancholic postcolonial framework that demands both locations stay in contact through the connective basin of the fluid Mediterranean.