Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 271 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Pierre Joris

Committee Members

Don Byrd, Paul Stasi


Bowles, Paul, Burroughs, William S., North Africa, Postcolonialism, Postmodernism, Poststructuralism, Decolonization in literature, Postmodernism (Literature), Pieds-Noirs in literature, Group identity

Subject Categories

African Languages and Societies | American Literature | English Language and Literature


Examining a 25-year period of literature about post-WWII North Africa by Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs, Kateb Yacine, and Pierre Guyotat, A Transnational Postmodernism describes the creation of a particular kind of postmodern literature that has been shaped by the concerns of its colonial/postcolonial context. Such a shaping introduces postmodernity as a problem. This problem—astutely identified by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire—is that, at the moment of decolonization, as we move from modern to postmodern regimes of power and control, the typical elements of postmodernity (hybridity, et al) are no longer as necessarily liberatory as they once were against modern regimes. Postmodern regimes co-opt elements of postmodernity for their own purposes. Written at the moment of decolonization in North Africa, the novels of Bowles, Burroughs, Kateb, and Guyotat explore how resistances defined and defended in both Postcolonial and Poststructural Theories are actually the ingressions for postmodern power and control. Thus, Bowles’ traveler in North Africa illustrates the vulnerabilities of infinite adaptability under mechanisms of torture and violence found within a colonial regime; Kateb’s Nedjma illustrates a nonlinear filiation whereupon a fragmented, hybrid Algerian identity offers no resolution for a difficult postcolonial situation attempting to negotiate its French colonial past; Guyotat’s novels depict a postcolonial Algeria that is not free, but is further enslaved, setting most of his novels in brothels which are meant to communicate the essentially prostitutional nature of human relationships—especially in a global economy; and, Burroughs’ Naked Lunch explores the International Zone of Tangier as the concentration of numerous Western/global powers within one colonized space where the fluidity/hybridity of individual identity is exploited, proving the individual to be an absolute construct that can be deconstructed and reconstructed according to the whims of the powers that be. In its effectiveness and its efficiency, the subtle and insidious nature of postmodern control proves to be much more difficult to resist than its more overt predecessor.