Location

Stewart Center 313

Session Number

Session 08: READINGS OF TERRORISM IN FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE LITERATURE

Start Date

9-9-2011 9:00 AM

End Date

9-9-2011 10:30 AM

Abstract

Can terrorism be justified as a means for social justice? Can a so-called democratic state engaged in indiscriminate bombardments of civilian populations be held accountable for terrorist acts? How is political crime different from senseless murder? Can and should genocide be defined differently from a civil war operation? Who has the right to decide for the life or death of others?

This paper compares important representations in prose and theater of moral dilemmas that plagued war-torn Europe and France during the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Algerian War. I analyze the complexities and divergences of existential writers such as Simone de Beauvoir (The Blood of Others), Albert Camus (The Just Assassins), and Mohammed Dib (Who Remembers the Sea) as they grapple with the evils of wars.

As Dib’s very structurally complicated novel on state terrorism draws inspiration from Picasso’s Guernica, I mainly explore if and how the articulations of these writers differ when the ethics of terrorism are applied to a colonial context such as Algeria. Does their western versus subaltern positioning account for the diversity of their stances on ethically thorny issues? In other words, do fighting fascism for Beauvoir and the specter of communism for Camus determine how the use of non-state actor or state terrorism is defined, attacked and/or tolerated?

 
Sep 9th, 9:00 AM Sep 9th, 10:30 AM

Totalitarian Threats and Colonial Geography: The Politics of Defining Terrorism in Beauvoir, Camus, and Dib

Stewart Center 313

Can terrorism be justified as a means for social justice? Can a so-called democratic state engaged in indiscriminate bombardments of civilian populations be held accountable for terrorist acts? How is political crime different from senseless murder? Can and should genocide be defined differently from a civil war operation? Who has the right to decide for the life or death of others?

This paper compares important representations in prose and theater of moral dilemmas that plagued war-torn Europe and France during the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Algerian War. I analyze the complexities and divergences of existential writers such as Simone de Beauvoir (The Blood of Others), Albert Camus (The Just Assassins), and Mohammed Dib (Who Remembers the Sea) as they grapple with the evils of wars.

As Dib’s very structurally complicated novel on state terrorism draws inspiration from Picasso’s Guernica, I mainly explore if and how the articulations of these writers differ when the ethics of terrorism are applied to a colonial context such as Algeria. Does their western versus subaltern positioning account for the diversity of their stances on ethically thorny issues? In other words, do fighting fascism for Beauvoir and the specter of communism for Camus determine how the use of non-state actor or state terrorism is defined, attacked and/or tolerated?