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Department ofModern Languages and Literatures

Prof. Jimia Boutouba, Ph.D.

My scholarly work has arisen from my long-standing interests in cross-cultural encounters, minority discourses and in the intersections of political and cultural histories. It is interdisciplinary in nature, located at the crossroads between cultural studies and the analysis of literary and filmic texts. Focusing majorly on the intertwined histories of North Africa and France, I have explored works by Francophone women writers and filmmakers, examining the way their narratives address the violent legacies of the past and counteract the competitive discourses and practices of power to carve a new space of representation. I study their work through the critical discourse of performance (the performance of the past, memory, gender and race). 

For instance, in a recent publication, I examine how women’s cinema contributes to a renewed understanding of gender and gender relations in contemporary Morocco. It centers, not on the oft-studied subject of women and the regulation of femininity in Arab countries, but on the complex relationship between masculinity and performance, highlighting the socio-cultural norms that have shaped and affected the performance of masculinity in Arabo-Muslim contexts. In particular, this study examines how the filmmaker uses subversive comedy to challenge traditional views and constructions of male and female roles, to expose and dismantle the normative constructions of masculinity and to promote the emergence of a new social frame that begs for different gender performances.

The other major part of my research focuses on the articulation between race, gender and national representation in contemporary France. In particular, it explores how children born in France to North African immigrants redefine national belonging and enact new ways of relating to and imagining communities from within the French Republican tradition. Currently, I am working on a new article on a 2013 film entitled La Marche (The March), which was released to commemorate the 30th anniversary of a major historical event in France: The March for Equality and Against Racism. Reminiscent of the famous summer 1963 March on Washington led by Martin Luther King, the 6-week March was a peaceful political demonstration and a spirited call for social justice and integration, racial and economic equality. It was designed to shed light on the rampant violence, discrimination, political and socio-economic challenges that the children of post-colonial immigrants were facing across the nation. My new article investigates the film medium reconstructs this major political event, and how it brings to light the struggle of many for civil, economic and social rights. It also investigates the legacy of this March, its impact on the lives of individuals and the nation.

I am committed to advocating this work in all my areas of teaching as a matter of social justice issue.