Albert Memmi: The Politics and Poetics of Resistance
Discussion with Lia Brozgal (UCLA) and Jonathan Judaken (Rhodes College)
Co-sponsored by Loyola Hebrew Studies Program
April 12, 2022
Please register here.
Resisting Racism, Prof. Jonathan Judaken (Rhodes College)
Albert Memmi was a pioneering anti-racist. This talk will briefly describe Memmi’s analysis of racism from his earliest works of fiction to his summa on the topic, titled simply, Le racisme: description, définitions, traitement. We will discuss how Memmi defined, described, and sought to dismantle racism.
Jonathan Judaken is the Spence L. Wilson Chair in the Humanities at Rhodes College. He is the author of more than 60 academic articles on the history of existentialism, anti-Semitism, racism, and on post-Holocaust French Jewish thought. Most recently, he co-edited The Albert Memmi Reader (U Nebraska Press, 2021). He is also the author of Jean-Paul Sartre and the Jewish Question: Anti-Antisemitism and the Politics of the French Intellectual (U Nebraska Press, 2006) and the editor of Race After Sartre: Antiracism, Africana Existentialism, Postcolonialism (SUNY, 2008) and Naming Race, Naming Racisms (Routledge, 2009). He co-edited (with Robert Bernasconi) Situating Existentialism: Key Texts in Context (Columbia UP, 2012) and (with Karen Golightly) Memphis: 200 Years Together (Susan Schadt Press, 2019). He is completing a new monograph entitled, Critical Theories of Anti-Semitism: Confronting Modernity and Modern Judeophobia.
Thinking Through the Impasse, Prof. Lia Brozgal (UCLA)
Albert Memmi’s novels and essays are littered with impasses. Some of these impasses are metaphorical (as in the subtitle of early editions of Portrait of a Jew, the predicament of the colonized writer described in The Colonizer and the Colonized, or the situation with only “one way out” that Memmi articulates at the end of Decolonization and the Decolonized). But many of them are quite literally dead-end streets in the neighborhood of his youth. In this short intervention, I will propose an against-the-grain reading of Memmi’s impasses that considers them not as symbols of blockage or as inertia, but rather as sites of resistance, as figures to be “thought with” rather than broken down.
Lia Brozgal is Professor of French and Francophone Studies in the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies at UCLA and is affiliated with the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, also at UCLA. Her most recent book is Absent the Archive: Cultural Traces of a Massacre in Paris, 17 October 1961 (Liverpool University Press, 2020). She is also the author of Against Autobiography: Albert Memmi and the Production of Theory (U Nebraska Press, 2013); co-editor of Being Contemporary: French Literature, Culture and Politics Today (Liverpool UP, 2015); co-editor of Ninette of Sin Street (the first English translation of the Tunisian novella Ninette de la rue du Péché by Vitalis Danon); and author of essays on North African literature and cinema, beur cultural productions, chronicles of the Holocaust in North Africa, and Judeo-Maghrebi literature and film.