Silent Multilingualism: Language Politics in the Mediterranean

Celine Piser


This article analyzes multilingual literature as an expression of Francophone Mediterranean identity, focusing in particular on twentieth-century and contemporary models that call into question traditional formulations of French national identity based in theories of shared memory and history. Drawing on the colonial roots of Mediterranean identity as imagined by Albert Camus and Gabriel Audisio, this study reads multilingual literature by Abdelkebir Khatibi and Assia Djebar to explore how the concept of Mediterranean identity has been reclaimed and mobilized to serve a culturally and linguistically hybrid population. Although Khatibi and Djebar write in French, their work engages critically with other languages through both context and content, exposing the inadequacy of postcolonial monolingual expression. By redefining “Francophone” as multilingual, these authors redraw the Mediterranean region as an alternative linguistic space that can better reflect the legacy of colonialism and immigration that influences Francophone literature and culture.


Algerian literature; postcolonial literature; Audisio; Khatibi; Djebar; Mediterraneanism; Camus

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