Commemorating the "disappeared": maternal activism and the Algerian civil war in Fatima Bourega-Gallaire's La Beaute de l'icone

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Author: Brinda Mehta
Date: Summer 2014
From: Research in African Literatures(Vol. 45, Issue 2)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 10,636 words

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Abstract :

This essay examines the "dangerous" role of women's theater, as highlighted in La Beaute de l'icone, Fatima Bourega-Gallaire's play on the Algerian civil war of the 1990s. The play exposes the violence of the "black decade" and highlights the gendered aggressions that have scarred Algeria's postcolonial imaginary in a radicalized economy of fear, terror, and censorship. La Beaute de l'icone is an intense enactment of another chapter in the history of the civil war--the numerous abductions and forced "disappearance" of civilians during a pathological and power-driven reign of terror initiated by armed militias and government security forces. I demonstrate how the play adds another dimension to the civil war through two concomitant perspectives--the state's role and culpability during the war, on the one hand, and the revolutionary activism of the "mothers of the disappeared" that inscribe their voices in a disavowed history. I further analyze the intersections between state terror and maternal power by examining the role of theater in exposing human rights violations to determine whether the aggressed can be given voice and visibility in a public text. La Beaute de I'icone thereby embraces an anti-war ethic by staging the violent trajectories of the civil war and its consequences. At the same time, it advocates a politics of peace through the suffering and courage of dissident mothers who refuse to accept the disappearance of their loved ones.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A371468596