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Exile is a move away from one’s homogeneous cultural background, and the exile constantly experiences “both the old and the new environment” as “vivid, actual, occurring together contrapuntally” (Said186). While exile might be a rift, it can also be chosen as a mode of interior movement away from repressions and oppressive values. I contend that the indeterminacy of the notion of willfulness (Ahmed, Willful Subjects) and the implied dissent involved are a productive lens through which to analyze Malika Mokeddem’s Mes hommes (2005) and Kim Thúy’s Vi (2016). In both texts, I investigate how willfulness is conducive to freedom along with subjectivation, demonstrating how postcolonial migrant women recuperate not only their individuality but also showcase the different changes that operate within their family due to their exilic experiences.

Original publication




Journal article


Oxford Academic

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