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Mapping Moroccan Literature: The Spatial Practices of Modernity in 'Abdelmajīd Ben Jallūn's Fī al-Tufūla

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This article addresses 'Abdelmajīd Ben Jallūn's 1956 autobiographical novel Fī al-Tufūla from the perspective of the spatial theories of the French cultural geographer Henri Lefebvre. Ben Jallūn spent his early childhood in England and brought the sociospatial practices of 20th-century Britain—what Lefebvre would term "abstract space"—to Morocco with him, where he encounters a profoundly different set of sociospatial practices. The paper describes these Moroccan practices and defines them as "labyrinthine space" by examining the differences Ben Jallūn's childhood alter ego encounters when trying to make his way through the city and receive an education. As he grows into adolescence, Ben Jallūn adapts to the labyrinthine spaces of traditional Islamic culture in Morocco and creates a hybrid space of his own; this enables him to have a bird's-eye view of the nascent Moroccan literary scene. He uses this space and the perspective it provides him to create a map of Moroccan literature and in effect creates the idea of "Moroccan literature" as opposed to literatures by authors from various Moroccan cities. Yet this act is itself a political act, an accrual of power to Ben Jallūn.

Affiliations: 1: Georgia State University


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