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erinpalomares has commented on (4) products.

A Life Elsewhere by Segun Afolabi
A Life Elsewhere

erinpalomares, March 25, 2008

"Monday Morning" is one of the stories featured in this book by Segun Afolabi. It illustrates that only through assimilation and mastery of the hegemonic discourse can minorities survive life elsewhere. Because minorities are voiceless to begin with, the only way they can survive is by emulating and learning the ways of the locals. But as the characters' experiences have shown, assimilation does not necessarily guarantee access to the power that circulates within the dominant culture. Like Emmanuel, for instance, the boy from the hostel who seem to have stayed longer in the new country. He may have mastered the practices in the place but his use of it will remain mere nonsense to the eyes of the locals. Through assimilation, he earned a voice and got by. However, the use of this voice to discuss issues which concerns him will continue to be defined as mere babble, an incoherence inside the hegemonic culture.
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Hand Full of Stars
Hand Full of Stars

erinpalomares, March 25, 2008

Children's literature often portray themes as kindness, integrity, friendship and heroism in a rather similar way. These terms and formulations are offered by their various authors as if they are essentially unproblematic. Rafik Schami's A Hand Full of Stars problematizes children's literature's static notion of heroism. It labels as 'heroes' the characters in the story who defy the dominant ideology. By presenting the main characters as nonconformists, disobedient towards laws and regulations of the state, the author chooses to redefine heroism, while advancing, at the same time, a discourse counter to the traditional discourse of that society.
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Of Dreams and Assassins (00 Edition) by Malika Mokeddem
Of Dreams and Assassins (00 Edition)

erinpalomares, March 23, 2008

DETERRITORIALIZATION AND RETERRITORIALIZATION
Problematique: What another potential community could Kenza be producing as a result of her deterritorialization?

Thesis Statement: The potential community Kenza is trying to create refers less to a physical community than a community of her own making.

►Deterritorialization, defines Caren Kaplan, is one term for the displacement of identities, persons, and meanings that is endemic to the postmodern world system. It describes the effects of radical distanciation between signifier and signified; hence meaning and utterances have become estranged (188).
Women are nothing more than meat to the men in Algeria. The oppressive condition causes the women to “not feel at home”, the result of which is deterritorialization. Deterritorialization (displacement, dislocation, or “not being at home” is felt strongly by the female character in the story. Her education, which makes women like her exiles in their country, is what further intensified this feeling of displacement. In other words, the intended signified of the meanings of the following signifiers – words like “being Algerian,” “being female” – were no longer experienced, hence new meanings, new identities have to be formed.
►Deterritorialized women must leave “home” since their homes are often sites of racism, sexism and other damaging social practices. Where they come to locate themselves must be a place with room for what can be salvaged from the past and what can be made new.
Kenza moves away from “home” to deconstruct the terms of social privilege and power. She flew to Montpellier to recover and make new memories of her mother; she left Algeria not solely to escape the injustices and violence happening there everyday but also to recreate “home”. In her struggle to create a new “home”, she wanted not to be reminded of the devastating conditions in her country. It is for this reason she was hesitant to attend the conference on Algeria and enraged at the slightest sign of female abuse in Montpeiller. She wanted to take with her only the memories of Alilou, Slim and her mother and forget everything else. Her new view of her past and her life has to contain all these new images and new kinds of knowledge. She needed to reconstruct her past in order to modify her present.
►Deterritorialization enables imagination, even as it produces alienation, to express another potential community, to force the means for another consciousness and another sensibility (188). What we gain is a reterritorialization: we reinhabit a world of our making (195).
What could this potential community be? The potential community deterritorialized women are trying to produce refers less to a physical community than a community of their own making. For Kenza, this is not Montpeiller, as Kenza’s “home” means to be far from “home”; Montpeiller bears too many traces of Algeria. At the end of the story, taking only with her memories of Slim, Alilou and her mother, she decided to become a nomad and travel to places where she has no roots, in the hopes of discovering new stories and memories which might lead her to the paths to identity. The uncertainty of this situation is preferable to the sensation of being homesick while at “home”.

Works Cited
Kaplan, Caren. Deterritorializations: The Rewriting of Home and Exile in Western Feminist Discourse.

Mokeddem, Malika. Of Dreams and Assassins. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 2000.
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Shantytown Kid: Le Gone Du Chaaba by Azouz Begag
Shantytown Kid: Le Gone Du Chaaba

erinpalomares, March 23, 2008

UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF MINORITY CHILDREN
Problematique: How is the social development of minority children distinct from normal children as seen in Begag’s autobiographical novel?

We use as starting point Vygotsky’s cultural-historical approach in understanding children’s development. The essence of his theory is that “the actual course of the process of development of the child’s thinking takes place not in the direction going from the individual to the socialized state, but starting from the social and proceeding to the individual…The child himself acquires the social forms of behavior and transposes those onto himself”.
● This simply states that the cultural structure of a child’s environment determines the development of his actions and forms the structure of his personality.
► In the story, because the Arab children are inside an environment which is strongly prejudiced, they begin to develop as well a discriminating attitude.
Now let us explore the social environment inside which the Arab children lived.

Le Chaâba environment

1. children are expected to work in the market to earn money and perform poorly in class
2. children activities consist of rummaging through garbage, which they consider “piles of treasure”
3. physical environment – no electricity, no running water, poor hygiene, explicit prostitution

French environment
1. children are expected to do well in their classes
2. good manners and behavior cannot be overemphasized
3. there is electricity (television), cleanliness and proper hygiene are observed


Unlike normal children, Azouz and his fellow Arab playmates (whose country of origin is Algeria and country of birth is France) clearly have two social environments. Minorities clearly know the difference between the two. As the French society refuse to recognize them as French, they deliberately assert their “Arabness” and, in consequence, develop a discriminating attitude (this I have explained earlier). In the story, being “Arab” meant defying teacher’s authority, being in the bottom of class standings, and practicing poor hygiene. To be “Arab” is to act in accordance with these expectations. Azouz, because he performs extremely well in his classes, is labeled a sham. Because he spends more time with French kids, he is accused of being an infidel.
● What, then, are its implications with regard to the social development of minority children? How does a prejudiced environment affect the social development of minority children?
The ages of the Arab children in the story range from 8-10. Children of this age, as child psychologists have observed, are supposed to be taking subjective intentions into account in formulating judgments. They should now be aware that other people can have different points of view, unlike four and five year-olds who assume that there is only one view. But with minority children, this is not the case. There appears to be just one option for them. Their concept of friendship is defined by the restrictive threat “whether you’re with them or with us! You have to make your mind up”. According to child psychologists, it is four and five year old children who often get upset when they see someone they consider their friend playing with someone else. Studies have shown that older ones, under which the Arab children in the story are categorized, do not get upset when a friend of theirs spends time with other friends. They realize that the person can do things with others and still be their friend. But as we see in the narrative, this is not the case for minority children. While a strong solidarity is formed as the Arab children only stick to each other, they also develop this concept of friendship which is highly discriminatory, as a result of the discriminating attitude their environment fostered.

Conclusion: This discriminating attitude a prejudiced environment fosters impedes the growth and maturity of minority children. Unlike normal children, their social development is hampered, as consequence of having less experience with people outside their own group.


WORKS CITED
Begag, Azouz. Shantytown Kid. Trans. Naima Wolf and Alec G. Hargreaves. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

Schickedanz, Judith A., David I. Schickedanz and Peggy D. Forsyth. Toward Understanding Children. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, 1982.

Valsiner, Jaan. Culture and the Development of Children’s Action. Chichester, New York, Brisbane, Toronto, Singapore: John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 1987.
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