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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Allégorie initiatique et engagement féminin à travers la littérature et le cinéma francophones de l'Afrique subsaharienne et du Maghreb
by Saidou, Amina, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2018, 382; 10814748
Abstract (Summary)

African women’s struggle for freedom can be thought of as an initiatory journey, an allegorical quest. Their long-lasting fight for emancipation happens to be about challenging and subverting traditional, patriarchal, and religious institutions. This research that focuses on female main characters analyzes the process of their emancipation as a journey. Through this study, we aim at deconstructing western feminist ideology and its stereotyping of African women. In doing so, we contribute to an understanding of African women identity(ies).

Women in West and North Africa, just like westerners, often face misogyny and discrimination. Socio-cultural beliefs, religious, political, and historical standpoints are proven to be factors that contribute to undermining women’s self-fulfillment. Also, they are factors set to create discrepancies between African and Western feminisms as well as between African types of feminisms. Therefore, these factors should be taken into consideration when conceptualizing and analyzing African women. Although this can be true for most African women, authors construe and characterize their female characters as heroines. They discharge themselves of “masculine domination.”

This work first examines the representation of African women social status and interaction in francophone literary and cinematographic works. Next, based on critics like Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and symbolic violence, the second chapter analyzes African women’s social behavior in reaction to oppression. Though violence is experienced through habitus, women who escape can free themselves through an undertaken journey. In this way, the third chapter examines women’s use of different strategies to resist oppression. Consequently, women need to overcome various challenges that they encounter. Overall, we ground our research on theories such as post-colonialism, deconstruction, feminisms, negofeminism, and the concept of “everyday resistance” or cultural resistance.

Also, we examine the authors’ standpoints and purposes through their representation of heroines. African women are no more where/who they used to be. Nevertheless, because of deep-rooted and obsolete African cultural beliefs, they still have to fight hard for a more advanced emancipation. Unperceived violence can be more damaging for women who face challenges. Key fundamental aspects are the persistence in raising awareness and revisiting African traditions, values, and practices; encouraging women’s political and religious education; and fostering their economic enterprises for financial self-reliance. Most importantly, women’s self-awareness with regard to their “reproduction of symbolic violence” is the key factor for this battle ground.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ouedraogo, Amadou
Commitee: Barry, Allen David, Mielusel, Ramona
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Francophone Studies
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Romance literature, African literature, Film studies
Keywords: Cinema in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb, French-speaking literature
Publication Number: 10814748
ISBN: 978-1-392-04138-3
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