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  • The Reshaping of Postcolonial Iberia:Moroccan and Amazigh Literatures in the Peninsula
  • Cristián H. Ricci

This essay develops key connections along lateral axes with other Moroccan literatures written in Castilian/Spanish, Catalan, and English through a transcolonial perspective. The unprecedented social and political developments that are taking place in Morocco today have also generated a renewed interest in the country's literary production. Instead of regarding the writings of Moroccan nationals as part of Maghrebi literature, critics are now becoming more sensitive to the unique features of this literature, against the backdrop of a colonial and postcolonial history that is markedly different from that of the two other countries of the reduced Maghreb: Algeria and Tunisia.1 Literary fiction texts can serve as evidence in a similar fashion as empirically based political or social observations; processes represented within and implicit around fictional works, which can be discerned by a reader or interpreter, convey a reality or veracity about their geopolitical locations that is germane as[to], say, statistical data or sociological field work or political reports (Gupta, "Literary Studies" 873). As Daniela Merolla states,

[C]olonial and postcolonial 'poetics of transition,' a feature of English and French writings since the beginning of the nineteenth century, has progressively characterized Dutch, German, Italian, Finnish, Spanish, and other European literatures, thanks to new writers who have attracted public attention and criticism […].

This artistic renewal has prompted discussion on matters pertaining to creation and language, cultural essentialism, social identity, and political choices. At the same time, international and national events have changed the social, political, and artistic atmosphere […].

("Poetics of Transition" 36). [End Page 21]

Therefore, this article raises and discusses a new set of questions that are invoked in academic circles: in the last decade, how do Moroccan and Amazigh (Berber) authors (re)define their identities? How does this emergent literature configure the meaning of diaspora literature? How can we position new Afro-Iberian voices within the field of cultural production in the Peninsula? How does the language of expression shape and create new identities that bridge the gap between the writers and a Spanish State on the verge of dismemberment? Sandra Ponzanesi and Daniela Merolla pose similar questions: it is high time to ask if European literature supersede the national literatures, or when migrant literature will be an object of comparison without having to pass via the national canon (Migrant Cartographies 4). This article fleshes out the above questions through detailed textual analyses and contextualizes the cultural negotiations in the multifarious space of twenty-first century Spain. Born of recent economic crisis and autonomous communities pleads of independence, displaced agents are positioned at the interstices of different spaces, histories, and languages. As a result, Afro-Iberian voices echo the split subjectivities and fragmented consciousness that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself. This article includes one male Moroccan author who writes in Castilian, one female Moroccan author who writes in English about Spain, and four Amazigh (Berber) authors who write in Catalan.2

Mohamed Lahchiri: Epitome of the Borderland Writer

Mohamed Lahchiri – first chief editor of La mañana, the first Moroccan newspaper written entirely in Castilian throughout the 1990s – wrote four short story books and a novel published as feuilleton in L'Opinion: Pedacitos entrañables (1994), Cuentos ceutíes (2004), Una tumbita en Sidi Embarek (2006), Un cine en el Príncipe Alfonso y otros relatos (2011), and Una historia repelente (2001).3 Lahchiri, who was born in Ceuta, narrates the transformations of territories and people of the former Protectorate into unequal and antagonistic spaces of post-independence modernity. Lahchiri belongs to a group of Moroccan writers that proliferated in the last fifteen years; a group of Moroccan authors who place Castilian-language Moroccan literature within the framework of a literature without borders.4 This writing is developing a series of questions about the use of the language of the "other" (Castilian), the aesthetic practices of Western literature, and a deeply critical observation on the influence of the Western media in Morocco. Mohamed Lahchiri is very conscious of...


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