Mourning in a Minority Language: Assia Djebar's Algerian White

  • A Schneider Sabanci University


Numerous books and articles have dealt with the violence of the 1990s civil war in Algeria. Sociological and historical studies, as well as news reports and literary works have sought to contain the violence by describing and explaining it and, in some way, give meaning to what seemed to be, at times, meaningless and random killing. In looking for the origins of the violence, these written works seek to place blame, to find comfort in understanding and, finally, to move on. Yet they remain unsatisfactory because their focus on origins and causes does not allow for adequate consideration of current experience of this past violence. Algerian writer Assia Djebar's 1995 work Algerian White is particularly interesting in this respect as she links recent violence, death and loss to her choice of language both in this painful period of Algerian history and in earlier periods of conflict. This paper further argues that Djebar's reference to traditional modes of mourning, such as the elegy, are particularly appropriate to the subject of her book.

Journal for the Study of Religion Vol. 19 (2) 2006: pp. 41-52

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eISSN: 1011-7601