Women Fight, Women Write: Texts on the Algerian War
Today, the "fight to write"--the struggle to become the legitimate chronicler of one's own story--is being waged and won by women across mediums and borders. But such battles of authorship extend well beyond a single cultural moment.
In her gripping study of unsung female narratives of the Algerian War, Mildred Mortimer excavates and explores the role of women's individual and collective memory in recording events of the violent anticolonial conflict. Presenting close readings of published works spanning five decades--from Assia Djebar's 1962 Children of the New World to Zohra Drif's 2014 Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter-- Women Fight, Women Write traces stylistic and material transformations in Algerian women's writings as it reveals evolving attitudes toward memory, trauma, historical objectivity, and women's political empowerment. Refuting the stale binary of men in battle, women at home, these testimonial texts let women lay claim to the Algerian War story as participants and also as chroniclers through fiction, historical studies, and memoir.
Algeria's patriarchal norms long kept women from speaking publicly about private matters, silencing their experiences of the war. Still, the conflict has ceaselessly sparked creative work. The country's dark decade of violent struggle between the Algerian army and Islamist fundamentalists in the 1990s brought the liberation struggle back into focus, inspiring and emboldening many more women to defiantly write. Women Fight, Women Write advances the broken silence, illuminating its vital historical revisions and literary innovations.