This article challenges widespread understandings and approaches to terror and terrorism, notably on display in Michael Walzer, through an analysis of the figure of Zohra Drif. A self-identified terrorist, Drif penned an apology for terrorism that engages in literary exegesis to defend her bombing of Le Milk Bar during the Battle of Algiers. I leverage her readings of Malraux's La Condition humaine and Camus's Les Justes in order to address two questions: what are the various constellations of meaning mobilized, contested, and reconfigured in identifying Drif as a "terrorist"? And, two, how does this particular case study open up to larger analyses about reading practices and the role of literature in creating, reinforcing, and contesting such constellations?

To respond, I dedicate sections to Malraux's novel, Camus's play, and a 2012 debate that brought together Drif, Bernard-Henri Lévy, and a survivor of Drif's bombing, Danielle Michel-Chich. Taking a multidirectional approach, I argue that Drif challenges certain established narratives both of revolutionary violence and of feminist liberation. Drif, I argue, not only sketches an alternative image of the terrorist, but, more importantly, she opens up canonical French literature to restagings, that is, spaces of renegotiation and performative reframing. Drawing parallels between Drif and Fanon in "L'Algérie se dévoile," I develop this notion of restaging in dialogue with the work of Joshua Cole, Michael Rothberg, Debarati Sanyal, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 457-473
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.