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Contemporary French And Francophone Studies


At a time when the Algerian Francophone publishing market remains dominated by Paris and the readership of French is said to be dwindling in Algeria, the future of Algeria's Francophone literary culture appears bleak. Through the writings of Mustapha Benfodil, perhaps the most unavoidable author from the post-Civil War generation, this article analyzes the ways in which contemporary Algerian literature asserts its autonomy from the Parisian “center” and redefines the literary sphere as a cornerstone of social change in Algeria. Paying particular attention to the figure of the “anartiste” first described in Archéologie du chaos (amoureux) (Barzakh, 2007), and later realized in the public collective “Bezzzef” (Benfodil, “Cherche”), I argue that Benfodil's artistic endeavor moves beyond the sphere of literary experimentation into that of social action. By writing novels that double as aesthetic manifestos and social pamphlets, and bringing them to life through public performances, Benfodil creates new artistic processes designed to renew the cultural field. The tangible materiality of this literature-action, I contend, serves an essential role in illustrating how Algerian francophone literature connects with its society and “becomes” Algerian.


This work is a post-print freely available courtesy of the author.