Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Romance Languages and Literatures: French Language and Literature


French (fr)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Seth Graebner


This dissertation focuses on a corpus of autobiographies and novels produced since 2002 by children, mainly daughters, of harkis: Algerian civilians who fought on the French side during the war of independence of Algeria between 1954 and 1962), including Dalila Kerchouche, Fatima Besnaci-Lancou and Zahia Rahmani. In this study, I have argued that this emerging literature differs from other "minor literatures," as defined by theorists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, by the fact that these young authors withold the traditional discourse of victimization to emphasize dialogue and reconciliation. In the first chapter, I examine how the notion of historicity can be applied to a community silenced both by France and Algeria since the end of the Algerian war. In the second, I show that the structure of these texts, favoring a multiplicity of voices, play an important part in their attempt to oppose a unitary version of history. I also demonstrate that by using unique counter-discourse narratives, they engage in the process of creating a collective memory that appears crucial for the children of harkis as they are trying to recapture their past. In the third chapter, I am focusing on the complex and unique position held by this population as they face a double rejection: from both Algeria and France) and a triple identity: Algerian, French and harki) in today's French society. I demonstrate that the process of reconstruction can only occur through what writer Zahia Rahmani calls "literature du déterrement" that allows them to extract the history of their community and come into terms with their own identity. In the last chapter, I show how the different narrative forms expressed in the novel Moze by Zahia Rahmani manage to give a voice to the first generation of harkis that have been silenced since the end of the Algerian war. I also illustrate that the omnipresence of dialogues in the text symbolizes the attempt by the harki community to reopen the dialogue with France and Algeria and moves towards reconciliation.


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