Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Modern Languages and Literatures (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Ralph Heyndels

Second Committee Member

Andrew Lynch

Third Committee Member

Gema Pérez-Sánchez

Fourth Committee Member

Ed Talavera


This study combines sociolinguistics with literary, cultural and cinematographic studies in the analysis of works by Jean Genet, Abdellah Taia, Leila Sebbar and Nabil Ayouch. This dissertation’s main argument is that an understanding of the relationship between what is to be conceived as Phantom Arabic and Dislocated French is crucial to the critical repositioning and re-questioning of a significant part of postcolonial cultural production emanating from North Africa and/or the North African diaspora. This thesis intervenes in current debates in French and Francophone Studies, in Arabic and Comparative Studies, but also in Sociolinguistics (particularly as related to North Africa, the Middle East and postcolonial North African diaspora in France), and in Queer Studies (expanding the notion of queer beyond sexuality to include language, nationality, race and class). While language and identity politics tend to be viewed as fixed to the rigid geographic and cultural boundaries of the nation-state, this thesis argues that representations of subjectivity in transnational networks of cultural production tend to be dissociated from those politicized and rigid identifications. This work therefore introduces the concept of Dislocated French as a set of modalities that disturb the “normal” and hegemonic positioning of the French language. In addition, this dissertation also proposes the concept of Phantom Arabic as a symbolic quasi “mythological” presence. One that is always already there, but one that plays a very important role in so far as being “producer of meaning” in each of the literary and filmic cases investigated. Indeed “Arabic” (in a variety of forms and modalities) holds a special place in the works of each of the authors and filmmakers scrutinized in this dissertation. Each of the authors/directors studied maintains a singular relationship vis-à-vis “Arabic”, while dislocating the very status of centrality of the French language, which in turn undergoes a process of distancing, transformation and displacement.


dislocated french; francophone; arabic; language; linguistics; phantom arabic

Available for download on Wednesday, April 29, 2020