Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani, UoA 28, SSHL

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I moved to Great Britain in 1995. After completing my MA, I enrolled for a PhD part-time in the Department of Modern and Applied Languages in October 2005. I chose the University of Westminster because of the flexibility of part-time study, its friendly, but rigorous, academic environment, and the dedicated support of the academic staff and of the Research Office in French and Francophone Studies.

My interest in postcolonial Francophone writing in Algeria developed during my MA studies, and my PhD study has allowed me to pursue a new, comparative aspect of my research in the very different historical and geographical context of Canada. I am particularly interested in the relationship between migration, culture and literary representations of geographic loss in the postcolonial context.

Spatial loss matters. This research investigates representations of spatial loss in works by ten postcolonial Francophone writers in a comparative literary and cultural context. It combines a range of theoretical perspectives and, simultaneously, tests a method of close reading (semiotic analysis) in order to analyse the postcolonial Francophone text in a more systematic way than previously attempted.

The research aims to analyse the extent to which the texts and writers studied contribute to the ‘demystification’ of the discourse on space and place in the colonial and postcolonial contexts, a question that is highly relevant for the further understanding of relationships between space, place and power at the centre of (post)colonial discourse.

Using a range of interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives, the literary representations of spatial loss are studied through four “meta-themes”: imagination, memory, the border and contemporaneity. Do these writers create a counter-discourse on space and spatial loss, or do they reinforce dominant traditionalist discourse(s) on space despite their own assumed post-colonial status? How are the notions of local and global spaces, and of periphery and centre treated? Can narrative differences and similarities be established across two distinct geographical areas and experiences?

The four “meta-themes” play a significant role in the ways in which space and spatial loss are represented. A similar narrative structure underlies most of the texts studied despite cultural, historical, geographical, gender and generational differences. The discourse of space and place is expressed through values of ambiguity, not subversion as previously suggested.

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