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Queer(y)ing Bodily Norms in Francophone Culture


Edited By Polly Galis, Antonia Wimbush and Maria Tomlinson

Queer(y)ing Bodily Norms in Francophone Culture questions how a wide selection of restrictive norms come to bear on the body, through a close analysis of a range of texts, media and genres originating from across the francophone world and spanning the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Each essay troubles hegemonic, monolithic perceptions and portrayals of racial, class, gender, sexual and/or national identity, rethinking bodily norms as portrayed in literature, film, theatre and digital media specifically from a queer and querying perspective. The volume thus takes «queer(y)ing» as its guiding methodology, an approach to culture and society which examines, questions and challenges normativity in all of its guises. The term «queer(y)ing» retains the celebratory tone of the term «queer» but avoids appropriating the identity of the LGBTQ+ community, a group which remains marginalized to this day. The publication reveals that evaluating the bodily norms depicted in francophone culture through a queer and querying lens allows us to fragment often oppressive and restrictive norms, and ultimately transform them.
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11 Exploring Encounters in Passages by Emile Ollivier: The Role of Testimonial Responsibility to Othered Bodies (Jennifer Boum Make)



11Exploring Encounters in Passages by Emile Ollivier: The Role of Testimonial Responsibility to Othered Bodies

Introduction: Incorporating Testimonial Voices in Passages by Emile Ollivier

In his 1991 novel Passages [Passages], for which he received the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal the same year, Emile Ollivier develops insight into the lives of Haitian exiles in the Americas with multiple narrators that speak in the first person.1 Such a narrative configuration allows a range of voices of exile to intersect in unexpected ways. Normand Malavy and his wife, Leyda, have left Haiti and settled in Montreal years before a group of Haitian exiles has no other choice but to leave a dismal Port-à-L’Écu, a coastal city in the northwest of Haiti, following the overthrow of Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as Baby Doc, in 1986. When their boat, La Caminante, founders a few miles off the coast of Southeast Florida, the few survivors, including one of the narrators Brigitte Kadmon, are immediately met by police forces and taken to the Krome detention centre in Miami where Normand and Brigitte will eventually meet.

This particular event resonates with the flow of so-called ‘boat people’, or Haitian migrants who, according to official reports, began arriving in Southern Florida in 1972.2 That first boat from Haiti is ominously called the ‘Mayflower des damnés de la glèbe et du glaive’ [Mayflower of the damned from the feudal lands with their...

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