The Case of Djamila Boupacha and an Ethics of Ambiguity: Opacity, Marronage, and the Veil

CLR James Journal 28 (1):159-179 (2022)
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Abstract

In this article, I briefly sketch the “right to opacity” that Édouard Glissant details in Poetics of Relation and situate it as an ethical imperative with Simone de Beauvoir’s Ethics of Ambiguity, contrasting the distinctive contributions of opacity and ambiguity toward ethical-political living. I apply the principles of opacity and ambiguity toward one of Beauvoir’s most political and only co-written works, Pour Djamila Boupacha. I argue that the polyvalent use of the Islamic veil during the Algerian War for Independence reveals the ethical application of opacity and ambiguity. Additionally, the veil clarifies the political stakes of gendered assumptions and racial hierarchy across geographies, positing a false body neutrality that obfuscates the violent global War on Terror.

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Ruthanne Kim
St. Cloud State University

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