Contemporary Arab women's life writing and the politics of resistance:literary modes and postcolonial contexts

Cheurfa, Hiyem (2020) Contemporary Arab women's life writing and the politics of resistance:literary modes and postcolonial contexts. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

[thumbnail of HiyemCheurfaThesis]
Text (HiyemCheurfaThesis)
HiyemCheurfaThesis.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 10 March 2025.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs.

Download (2MB)


This thesis argues for a reinvigorated postcolonial understanding of contemporary Arab women’s autobiographical writing as part of a revolutionary and dissident culture. It argues that contemporary Arab women’s life writing is a site of cultural resistance through which autobiographical subjects engage with, question, negotiate, and attempt to destabilise dominant social, political, and representational discourses. It uniquely interrogates the interplay of power, gender, and resistance, in life narratives of national struggle by politically committed Arab women across different linguistic (Arabophone, Francophone, Anglophone) and national contexts (Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Palestine, Tunisia). It considers why resistance is important when writing about the self for Arab women and ways in which dissent is articulated through the genre. The thesis combines postcolonial theory and feminist autobiographical criticism in order to trace a range of formal, thematic, and representational modalities used to articulate dissent to intersectional structures of power to which contemporary Arab women are subjected in contexts of political conflict, including state/colonial hegemony, social pressure, patriarchy, and cultural/representational silencing. Each chapter examines a specific thematic and/or formal strategy of life writing: bricolage (Chapter One); transborder testimony (Chapter Two), resilient humour (Chapter Three), and digital dissidence (Chapter Four), as manifested in autobiographical forms of memoir, auto-portrait, testimony, diary, and online life writing. The overarching purpose is to investigate ways in which authors experiment with the conventions of the genre in order to rewrite mainstream narratives of national struggle and to enact Arab women’s active involvement in the public sphere and during revolutionary moments.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
11 Mar 2020 09:25
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 03:35