Segalen and Khatibi
Segalen and Khatibi
Bilingualism, Alterity and the Poetics of Diversity
Like the Martinican thinker and writer Edouard Glissant, Abdelkébir Khatibi engaged throughout his career with the work of Victor Segalen. This is evident in a variety of texts, ranging from a key reference to Segalen’s Polynesian cycle in La Mémoire tatouée to the significant reflection on the author underpinning Figures de l’étranger dans la littérature française. The chapter will consider the implicit, achronological dialogue between the two authors that emerges from Khatibi’s writing, ranging from the early exploration of decolonization and acculturation in these readings of Les Immémoriaux, to a reflection on the links between the Segalenian exote and Khatibi’s voyageur professionnel. I suggest that the genealogy of Khatibi’s deconstruction of dichotomies (Occident/Orient; authentic/inauthentic…) in a text such as Maghreb pluriel and the elaboration of his creative practice in a novel such as Amour bilingue can be usefully read in the context of works by Segalen, including the Essai sur l’exotisme and Stèles.Understanding Segalen as an interlocutor with Khatibi not only illuminates the Moroccan thinker’s own reflection on translation, transnationalism and the aesthetics of diversity, but also (and equally importantly) invites a rethinking of Segalen’s own early twentieth-century work in a postcolonial frame.
Keywords: Khatibi, postcolonialism, decolonisation, transnationalism, transcolonial, aesthetics, sociology, Islam, Maghreb, Morocco, travel, stranger, art, sign, literature, philosophy, translation, bilingualism, Mediterranean, language, performativity, Palestine, alterity, Derrida, Hassoun, Segalen, Tanizaki, Japan, semiology, carpet, spiritual, poetics, ethics
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