At the intersection of queer and postcolonial discourses: Rerouting the queer with Jean Sénac and Jean Genet
This chapter offers a narrative model that departs from the orientalist1 practice of ‘the coming out genre’ in North Africa displayed in works such as André Gide’s Immoralist (1951) and, in some respects, Roland Barthes’ Incidents (1987), in which the relation of desire between the white man and the Arab boy is conditioned by the dynamics of power that structure relationships in their (post-and neo-) colonial world. It posits its authors as lovers rather than colonizers. Within the specific context of the French gay male relation to the Arab man, I bring forward the distinctive situation of Jean Sénac (1948-1973), one of the most problematic figures in the literary history of colonial and postcolonial Algeria, and show how the sexual identity of the poet as deployed in his work and life is uniquely entangled in his political investment in the Algerian revolution. I argue that, rather than being motivated by power, his relation to the other is conditioned by his love of the other. The rereading I undertake in this chapter opposes the subjectivity of the unrequited lover to that of the occidental sexual tourist. It proposes a new model of subjectivity, a poetic model that can translate the unique experience of the lover in its relation to the other in the context of queer and postcolonial realities.