A postcolonial queer melancholia

Matrilinearity, Sufism, and l’errance in the autofictional works of Abdellah Taïa

in Queer Muslim diasporas in contemporary literature and film
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The first chapter in Part III deals with Abdellah Taïa’s autofictional work: his short fiction collections Mon Maroc and Le rouge du tarbouche, and his novels Salvation Army and An Arab Melancholia, with due reference to Taïa’s debut film, Salvation Army. This chapter firstly explores Taïa’s chosen genre and its articulation of embodiment. It then links the writing of the self to Taïa’s postcolonial queer melancholia, conceptualised in dialogue with Jean Starobinski’s notion of l’errance – errancy – which performs an assemblage of temporalities validating his position as a gay, Moroccan, Muslim, Arab man. It is argued Moroccan society’s homophobia triggers religious doubt in Taïa’s autofictional self, and a desperate embrace of matrilineal and Sufi versions of Islam is posited at a remove from Islamist Sunni literalness. The chapter also analyses Taïa's critique of colonial social hierarchies in contemporary Western sexual tourism. It is suggested Taïa’s most hopeful episode of homoerotic connection is enacted in the representation of queer diasporas, where same-sex desire articulated in transit temporarily dissolves man-made geographical and personal borders. Finally, it is proposed that Taïa’s articulation of the legacies of pre- and Islamic poetry inscribes his queer sensibility within the long continuum of Arab cultural history.

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