Intimate Selving and Healing in Women's Writing of Postcolonial Warfare Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Rulon, Michael James
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This dissertation explores previously unexamined modes of violence and healing in women's fiction of the Algerian Revolution, the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990, and the First and Second Indochina Wars. I propose that memory and testimony alone cannot constitute a complete approach to healing the psychic wounds of warfare. Instead, I identify the violence of war and its subsequent healing processes in terms of intimate selving, a concept described by Lebanese-American anthropologist Suad Joseph. Intimate selving is a process of forming a self in relation to others in a way that recognizes the value of both the individual and the collective and places emphasis on the interaction between the two. I define the healthy self, based on Joseph's concept, as a self that is embedded in a relational matrix of selves that is neither individualist nor collectivist, in which selves mutually shape each other, and in which each individual maintains a sense of agency as a result of this network. From this basis, I identify the ways in which various forms of violence, including torture, rape, imprisonment, and exile, disrupt this construction of a networked self, and I compare the different ways in which female characters in fictional works by Assia Djebar, Hanan al-Shaykh, and Linda Lê attempt to heal their psychic wounds through the process of intimate selving. I situate each work in its historical and social context in order to determine the ways in which such contexts influence the forms of violence that take place during warfare and to understand the reasons for the success and failure of various characters' healing processes. In doing so, I illustrate and defend Joseph's contention that intimate selving is a historically and culturally specific process that may be a necessary tool for survival in certain social contexts.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Antle, Martine
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2013

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