TM2: Bashair Alibrahim

Between the Cultural and the Personal: The Passage of Minority Bilingual Arab Writers between Small and towards Hegemonic Literatures

Bashair Alibrahim

University of Alberta

Abstract: Bringing the culture of minority peripheries into the sunlight of the hegemonic centre has long been the occupation of bilingual migrant/exiled writers. Through the practice of self-translation, bi-cultural authors struggle to undermine the power structures within “La republique mondiale des lettres”. Drawing on the premises of Pascale Casanova in her central study of power relations between literary systems, this paper sheds light on the work of a selection of Arab bilingual writers who self-translate between Arabic and French, or Arabic and English. Through the examination of their bilingual trajectory, I underline their “surconscience linguistique” (a notion found and elaborated by Lise Gauvin) in order to bring out the ways in which their contact with the (m)other language affected their usage of that language, and have continued to inspire their linguistic overtones. This presentation focuses on the interaction between the structural power relations between the literary systems and the personal surconscience linguistique of the author, and argues that a study of the cultural structures neglecting the author’s interaction with these structures offers a skewed view in regard to the study of minority bilingual writers.

Keywords: bilingualism; cultural migration; self-translation; surconscience linguistique; Arab immigrant; minority writing

Bio: Bashair Alibrahim is a PhD candidate in the Translation Studies Department at the University of Alberta. She graduated with a translation degree from King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She had her Master in Translation Studies from the University of Alberta. Her research interests are around bilingualism, bi-culturality, and cultural nomadism

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