After Liberation: Militarised Masculinities and Intergenerational Conflicts in Angolan and Algerian Narratives

This paper proposes a comparative reading of Tahar Djaout’s Les chercheurs d’os and Pepetela’s As aventuras de Ngunga, examining more precisely intergenerational relations, tensions and frictions during and after anticolonial conflicts of liberation in Algeria and Angola. It contrasts the revolutionary optimism of Pepetela’s late 1960s novel, conceived as a pedagogical tool of revolutionary education and Portuguese literacy, with Tahar Djaout’s somber denunciation of the instrumentalisation of the guerrilla war, its mujahideen, and their mortal remains, in the immediate aftermath of the war of liberation. Rather than opposing the two texts, Boulanger suggests instead that they embody two different moments of national affirmation shaped by armed conflict: one of mobilization, and one of introspection. Furthermore, they share a vision of hostile male intergenerational relations, opposing rural conservative patriarchy to mobile revolutionary masculinities. While the former recoils from and survives the armed struggle, the latter engages in and is devoured by it, turning the fallen guerrilla fighters into spectral figures, haunting the post-independence moment.

Dorothée Boulanger is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford and a Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College. Her research lies at the crossroads between African literature and intellectual history, with a specific interest in Lusophone Africa, gender and masculinity. Her first book, Fiction as History? Resistance and complicities in Angolan postcolonial literature (Legenda, 2022), explores fiction as a historical source and the role of writers in shaping historical consciousness in Angola. Dorothée is currently working on a project entitled: “Contemporary Griots: Writing the Revolution in Africa”, comparing novels from Algeria, Angola, Congo and Zimbabwe.

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