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Francophone Afropean Literatures$
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Nicki Hitchcott and Dominic Thomas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380345

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380345.001.0001

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date: 15 December 2017

Corps Sans Titre

Corps Sans Titre

‘Fleshiness’ and Afropean Identity in Bessora’s 53 cm

Chapter:
(p.48) Corps Sans Titre
Source:
Francophone Afropean Literatures
Author(s):

John Nimis

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781781380345.003.0004

One of the functions of literature is to convey a lived, embodied experience, to give others the possibility to empathize. Bessora's novel 53 cm portrays the complexities and absurdities of a process shared by Afropeans: gaining and maintaining legal status in a racially skewed bureaucracy. The main theme of this work is the dissonance between legal status and physical presence for its protagonist, whose cultural and legal identity are both ambiguous. This chapter analyzes a persistent aesthetics pertaining to the physical and biological, or what several critics have called Bessora's “corporality”. The book's title is an allusion to the width of the protagonist's hips, an ironic quantification of a particularly body-centered racial stereotype. The deployment of “bodiliness” in Bessora's writing, rather than an appeal to African heritage as a source of a “natural” physicality, participates in a critique of a quantification and measurement of race and ethnicity, as a means to refute dominant discourses of identity, both cultural and legal, in Europe.

Keywords:   Immigration law, anthropometry, Bessora, racial stereotyping

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