Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2011

Published In

Research In African Literatures


Many Algerian writers (Alloula, Djebar, Boudjedra) have revisited the representational politics of colonial iconography despite awareness that this endeavor is at risk of renewing exoticism. This article examines how Leïla Sebbar's "Le peintre et son modèle" reproduces such a problematic stance through the inclusion of a photograph by Joel Leick inline with her short story. Whereas Sebbar attempts to deconstruct the photograph's orientalism by placing it outside the realm of the aesthetic and resituating it within the sexual exploitation of women in the former French colonies, I intend to demonstrate how this photograph reintroduces the very inequalities that her text tries to evacuate. Leick's model elicits an eroticized gaze from readers, who become onlookers and obedient participants in the neocolonial consumption process. Rereading Sebbar's short story through the lens of this photograph thus shows current limitations to the power of postcolonial texts and, ultimately, their troubled dependence on orientalist iconography.


This work is a preprint freely available courtesy of the author.