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OccidentalismLiterary Representations of the Maghrebi Experience of the East-West Encounter$
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Zahia Smail Salhi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780748645800

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645800.001.0001

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The New Maghrebi Woman and the Occident: From Occidentophilia to Ambivalence

The New Maghrebi Woman and the Occident: From Occidentophilia to Ambivalence

(p.154) 6 The New Maghrebi Woman and the Occident: From Occidentophilia to Ambivalence

Zahia Smail Salhi

Edinburgh University Press

As a reaction to European women’s campaign to save native women from their own men, Algerian authors debated the condition of native women and called for their emancipation through education. Questions around whether French education would divert them from their prime role as the guardians of national culture, whether too much Occidental culture would contaminate and alienate them from their own people, and whether exposure to French ways would incite them to rebel against their traditions and customs were debated at length. These questions and many others were echoed in the work of Djamila Débêche as the first Maghrebi feminist novelist whose novels illustrate the emergence of the French educated native woman, who is active in the public sphere and who, like her male counterparts, she engages with the Occident. Her novels and articles denote a total shift from the image of the silent and secluded native woman to that of the active feminist agent. In order to gain a better understanding of Débêche’s novels this chapter situates them in their feminist context and investigates the influence of French feminism and the emergent Algerian feminist movement on their author’s viewpoints.

Keywords:   Native women, emancipation, French education, guardians of national culture, Occidental culture, Djamila Débêche, active agent, feminism

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