Subjectivites feminines et reecriture des histoires antillaises dans l'oeuvre romanesque de Maryse Conde, Simone Schwarz-Bart et Myriam Warner-Vieyra
Doctor of Philosophy
French Caribbean along with other Third World intellectuals have examined from different perspectives not only the oppositions, but also the interconnections between the colonial subject and the colonized other. In their discussions, which are enlightening to all other respects, the role and the significance of women are, nevertheless, undermined or even totally forgotten. In this work I am focusing on "autobiographical" novels written by three Guadeloupean authors, Maryse Conde, Simone Schwarz-Bart and Myriam Warner-Vieyra, who address the absence of female discourse on and from history. In their books, the female subject constitutes itself through its search for historical rehabilitation. This rehabilitation is hindered by a past of violence against the female body. Physically abused, during slavery and even after, the Caribbean woman succeeds in organizing her resistance. The latter functions as a "detour" that challenges the authority of colonial and patriarchal structures. Her confidence is nevertheless tested when she tries to build the cultural "arriere pays" she lacks. Although the idea of a return to Africa seems appealing at first, her trip to the maternal land turns out to be nothing more than the discovery of a world she does not understand and that is slowly disappearing in the midst of political turmoil. Her constant wanderings lead her to Europe or to America but fail to provide her with a real sense of identity. Twice colonized, victim of an endless movement of migration, she remains a prisoner of the Hegelian dialectics of the master and the slave. She finds, however, a way to penetrate the realm, ferociously protected by her oppressors, and uses their tools to deconstruct the legend of the impenetrability of colonial power. The realization of her hybrid subjectivity allows a new relationship with the island. This land of exile becomes also associated with images of a nourishing and caring mother and, therefore, helps her establish her own genealogy and create her own myths. Finally, writing becomes crucial in the process of constructing female subjectivity. Language and narrative structure build the foundations for the development of a "poetics of relation" that privileges plurality and fragmentation.
Caribbean literature; Women's studies; Sociology; Ethnic studies