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Of Dreams and Assassins (00 Edition)


Of Dreams and Assassins (00 Edition) Cover

ISBN13: 9780813919942
ISBN10: 0813919940
Condition: Student Owned
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Of Dreams and Assassins is the urgent and rhythmic fourth novel of Malika Mokeddem, her second to appear in English. Born in Algeria to a Bedouin family that had only recently become sedentary, Mokeddem was raised on the stories of her grandmother, who encouraged her education at a time when girls did not go to school. Though raised in a tolerant strain of Islam, Mokeddem nevertheless felt the weight of custom and tradition. Of Dreams and Assassins, though not strictly autobiographical, evokes through the beauty and vastness and oppressive heat of the desert Mokeddem's early yearning for freedom. Through its heroine, Kenza, and her simultaneous rebellion and immersion in the literary classics at a boarding school, the novel dramatizes the possibilities for women to express their identities.<P>Kenza is an exile, first in her own society and later in France. Born during a visit to Montpellier in the year of Algerian independence, she returns with her mother to Oran to find her father has taken another wife. Her mother leaves alone, never to return. Kenza's subsequent search for herself through the mother she doesn't know, told in a frank first-person narrative, mirrors the struggle of Algerian women to make a place in a society that has stripped them of their rights in spite of their crucial participation in the war for independence. Kenza's suffocating childhood in the house of her boisterous, leering father is broken only by summers in the desert, where the dates "become golden brown and gleam like little clusters of suns that mock the children". Eventually, Kenza, like Mokeddem herself, leaves her home to go to school in Montpellier because she can no longer tolerate life inAlgeria.<P>Of Dreams and Assassins is a protest against the subjugation of women in Algeria and the recent violence perpetrated by fundamentalist Muslim guerrillas. In exile, Kenza puts her hope in metissage, the blending of cultures embodied by the character of Slim, her friend and

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erinpalomares, March 23, 2008 (view all comments by erinpalomares)
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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Product Details

Marcus, K. Melissa
Marcus, K. Melissa
Mokeddem, Malika
Marcus, K. Melissa
University of Virginia Press
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
CARAF Books: Caribbean and African Literature Translated from French
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
8.49x5.63x.47 in. .51 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

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