Border subjects : a textual dialogue between Assia Djebar and Helene Cixous
The absence of a public dialogue, either about or between Assia Djebar and Hélène Cixous is mystifying, because they move in academic/literary/intellectual/biographical circles that overlap. Reading for the textual dialogue between Cixous's and Djebar's writing reveals the development of a narrative and writing position, referred to here as the 'border- subject', the roots of which stem from the authors' biographies. Reading Djebar's and Cixous's oeuvre, against the background of Franchise Lionnet's and Gloria Anzaldua's theoretical landscape, simultaneously enlarges the critical optic as well as the scope of each individual writer's oeuvre. What characterises the fictional border subject in Les Impatients and Dedans is a willingness to transgress boundaries. The fictional border subject negotiates with three different spatial dynamics: the separation from the other, spatial metaphors, and history's invasion of domestic space. In the subsequent 'Le Rire de la méduse' and Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement, Djebar and Cixous write as border subjects in order to craft liberating strategies intended to redress the mis-representation or absence of women's body. As a consequence of the preceding texts, L'Amour, la fantasia and Les Rêveries de la femme sauvage contain the authors' semi-autobiographical questioning of the border subject in relation to origin, language, belonging and home: this enables a re-animation of the Algerian past, both individual and collective. Lastly, in Le Blanc de I'Algérie and Le Jour où je n'étais pas là the border subject is put aside: although absent, the narrating 'je' remains connected with events and bears witness. This dimension of testimony represents an exciting development in the authors' oeuvre and their political commitment. What emerges from a comparative reading is the authors' transformation of the border subject into an engagement with the Algerian present. Solidarity amongst Algerian born writers can transform literature into an indestructible repository for the dream of a multi- lingual, multi-cultural Algeria.