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Abdelkébir Khatibi’s Mediterranean Idiom

Abdelkébir Khatibi’s Mediterranean Idiom

(p.89) Chapter Three Abdelkébir Khatibi’s Mediterranean Idiom
Abdelkébir Khatibi
Edwige Tamalet Talbayev
Liverpool University Press

Through its focus on decolonization, Abdelkébir Khatibi’s oeuvre has revealed the Maghreb’s intrinsic plurality—a legacy of intercultural contact that encompasses, yet extends beyond, the trauma of European colonialism. Drawing on the fluctuating principle of the Mediterranean as method, this chapter extends the purview of Khatibi’s “double critique” of any stable concept of origins to include other moments of trans-Mediterranean contact between the Maghreb and the West—moments preceding the watershed of colonialism and conveying other logics of interaction than European domination. Khatibi has written that his core concept of bi-langue functions as a means “to enter into the telling of forgetting and of anamnesia […] ‘I am an/other’ i[s] an idiom that I owe it to myself to invent” (“Diglossia” 158). This chapter probes the form that this anamnestic idiom is to take, beyond Manichean visions of being and belonging, in the density of the Maghreb’s marge en éveil—as the point of inception of a transcultural heuristic tethered to the contiguous space of the Mediterranean Sea and its manifold, multi-directional histories. In the vertiginous space of the interlangue (the point of contact between two languages, here conceived as “the space between two exteriorities” [ibid.]), the revised conception of bi-langue that this chapter proposes concerns itself with the resurrection of an alternative, deep-rooted idiom, one incommensurable to the languages in which writing occurs. This post-traumatic, Mediterranean form of expression moves beyond melancholia to open the bi-langue to the pluri-langue and disseminate it beyond the strictures of the colonial relation. By taking account of the “historical churning of between people, between civilizations” (ibid.) in the embracing space of the Mediterranean, this discourse gives shape to a revivified Maghrebi memory in all its sedimented density.

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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