Academic journal article Making Connections

When Body, Heart, Place and Identity Intersect: Inch' Allah Dimanch: Female Individuation and Re-Ethnicalization

Academic journal article Making Connections

When Body, Heart, Place and Identity Intersect: Inch' Allah Dimanch: Female Individuation and Re-Ethnicalization

Article excerpt

"Stories too can be unmasked to reveal their potential for challenging the dominant discourse. Personal narratives . . . are more than stories. They are an important site of resistance. Furthermore, they invent reform and refashion personal and collective identity."

-"Masks and Identity," Margaret E. Montoya


In a desire to deconstruct and reconstruct these themes on a sexualized, postcolonial, displaced body, Yamina Benguigui confronts her protagonist with the split singularity of the Divine of the title of the work-InchÁllah Dimanche (2001)-in order to force her to struggle to survive between the interstice of Ying and Yang: the border line of life itself. It is as "to live in the hyphen, to inhabit the borderland, to exist inside" (Stavans 146) diasporic dimensions and intersections. All this is woven in a space allowing for a distribution of self so as to create a new "identity ... of being" (Spivak [783]), focusing on the potential for transformation inherent in all borderline experience at both the physical and the emotional/psychological levels. I argue that "culture and identity are a parade of anachronistic symbols, larger-than-life abstractions, less a shared set of beliefs and values than the collective strategies by which we organize and make sense of our experience, a complex yet tightly integrated construction in a state of perpetual flux" (Stavans 146).

My project is to ponder the narrative of a life that precariously inhabits the border between Allah and Dimanche/Domenicus/ The Lord and where purposefully I part from the political position that "definitions of sexism . . . emerge only after a society has entered its capitalist mode of production, thus making capitalism and patriarchy conveniently continuous" (Spivak 117). InchÁllah Dimanche, created and directed by Yamina Benguigui (1957), who herself, as the daughter of Algerian immigrants in France, represents "le tiraillment entre rejet et integration, et les ambiguïtés insolubles dans les quelles ils (elles) se debattent se retrouvant dans la formule utilisée pour les désigner de nationalité française d'origine algérienne" (Brahimi), is a film dedicated to a most artful exploration of the drama of feminine displacement.

I identify with this film, as it takes on the perspective of a woman who also has emigrated: racialized, postcolonial woman who has negotiated her way in foreign lands, who has, through pain and rebirth, also transgressed. It gives witness to the epistemological hybridity as a means of production of theoretical knowledge from the epistemic privilege shared by non-European feminists who are capable of dialoguing and enriching theoretical production. Not less important, my purpose is to analyse this type of cinematography in view of the tool of intersectionality that is used within what is called identity politics, which is a more incisive look at elements that constitute an interconnected discourse that intersect personal experience with public experience, in which thoughts become words and words action.

Female Individuation and Re-ethnicalization

With the foregoing as introduction, this essay focuses on the cinematography of "Accented Cinema" of which Benguigui "reflects this border consciousness through a multifocal, multilingual, fragmented, asynchronous aesthetic involving multiple subjectivities" (Meeran 1-2). The feminist theory of intellectuals like Gloria Anzaldúa and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak dialoguing along this analysis share, with Benguigui, the problems of reinsertion and "examination, by a postcolonial woman, of the fabrication of repression, a constructed counternarrative of woman's consciousness, thus woman's being, thus woman's being good, thus the good woman's desire thus woman's desire" (Spivak 111). All three as postcolonial hybrid subjects recognize that to live on the frontier in a sexualized body translates into a kind of "intimate terrorism: Life in the Borderlands" (Anzaldúa 20). …

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