UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Migrations et traumatismes : Afrique, Caraïbes, océan Indien Booluck-Miller, Pooja


Migration as a topic in Francophone literature has long been subjected to unidirectional approaches which fail to provide a holistic image of such a complex journey. Driven by the urge to not only consider geopolitical or sociological contexts but also how they influence the psychological disposition of migrant characters, this dissertation explores the role of trauma studies in migration literature. It studies how female authors, through the mimetic function of representation, use the individual experiences of characters to reveal the lived reality of migration trauma. The literary analysis of six postcolonial novels by Ken Bugul (Senegal), Léonora Miano (Cameroon), Gisèle Pineau (Guadeloupe), Nathacha Appanah (Mauritius), and Shenaz Patel (Mauritius) speak of the involuntary and voluntary displacement of migrant characters in three different geographical spaces. Drawing on theories such as Michel Foucault’s Heterotopia and Dori Laub’s contributions on individual and collective trauma, this study demonstrates how the notion of “third space” and “in-betweenness” exacerbates the traumatic pain experienced by migrants and, subsequently, future generations. In addition, the works of Marianne Hirsch on postmemory demonstrate how exiles and refugees from the Chagos and Comoros Islands (as depicted in Appanah’s and Patel’s novels) relive the traumatic symptoms of their ancestors, thus demonstrating the consequences of intergenerational trauma. Lastly, I question the hesitance of employing psychoanalytic theories in Francophone postcolonial studies to illustrate their utility and contributions in understanding the psychic and mental dispositions of migrant characters. I thus propose to integrate findings from psychoanalysis in literary studies to underline how some manifestations of trauma, governed by the unconscious, play a role in the migrant’s journey. The questions driving the literary analysis of all the novels studied are as follows: How do female authors give voice to the underrepresented migrant population? How does the notion of “race” influence an African, Caribbean and Indo-oceanic migrant’s migration experience? What resources are present to migrants facing a permanent state of alienation which in some cases, leads to traumatic symptoms? In short, this dissertation demonstrates the omnipresence of trauma in selected characters’ migration journeys and how this mental disposition renders an already cumbersome journey an even greater challenge.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International