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The Forgotten Face of Postcoloniality: Moroccan Prison Narratives, Human Rights, and the Politics of Resistance

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This article argues that the promise of postcolonial discourse to expose the ramifications of the colonial encounter has been lacking insofar as it ignored many constituencies who write in indigenous languages. Within this context, this article examines three novels by Moroccan writers in Arabic, 'Abd al-Qādir al-Shāwī's Al-Sāhatu al-sharafiyah (The Square of Honor, 1999), Khadījah al-Marwāzī's Sīrat al-ramād (Biography of Ash, 2000), and Sa'īd Hajī's Dhākiratu al-fīnīq: sīratun dhātiyatun li wajhin min sanawāt al-rasās (Memory of the Phoenix: An Autobiography from the Years of Lead, 2006). These texts chronicle the lives of political prisoners and their experiences inside Moroccan prisons during the 1970s and 1980s. As testimonial narratives they expose the relationship between the social, cultural, religious, and political in postcolonial Morocco and show how these discourses shape its system of government and cultural practices. The article thus highlights violations of human rights in post-independence Morocco and the literature that came out to expose and eventually resist these violations. Such focus, the article argues, would perhaps invite a new critical interest in Maghrebian literature that looks beyond the identity politics and cultural othering so familiar in the francophone text.

Affiliations: 1: California State University—San Marcos


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