UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reimagining the American dream : critical perspectives by Francophone voices Ghaderi, Andisheh


The American Dream has long been the subject of many polemics. The promise of material prosperity and, ultimately, freedom inherent in the American Dream have made this country a desirable immigration destination. The gradual shift from France to the U.S. as Eldorado for Francophone immigrants has resulted in a rising body of literature in French and Creole. These authors offer new understandings of how the American Dream is perceived by immigrants. Revealing the diversity of American Dreams, as they engage in discourse, they grapple with the question of whether the promises are realistically attainable. In the process, they examine the nuanced complexities of a societal system that appears “utopian” or “idealistic” from an external perspective, but upon closer examination reveals flaws and imperfections. This study examines the success and failure of French-speaking immigrants in the U.S. due to factors such as class, gender, and identity politics as represented in literature and cinema. The select authors for this thesis actively reimagine the American Dream, breaking free from the limitations of capitalist rhetoric that asserts the Dream is only attainable through material prosperity and hard work. By challenging this notion and exploring alternative possibilities, they seek to decolonize the Dream and create a vision of success that is more equitable and inclusive. This thesis analyzes three works of fiction produced in Creole and French: the play Pèlen Tet (1978) by Frankétienne (Haiti); the movie Little Senegal (2001) by Rachid Bouchareb (Algeria), and the novel Désirada (1997) by Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe). Debating that the promises of the dream are not available to certain people, these authors show that the capitalist rhetoric has no inference to the real world or is “disinformation,” and a colonial legacy. The two texts and the film suggest that the concept should be decolonized by adopting an “indigenist” approach in which individuals free themselves from the restraining legacies of the colonial past and Capitalism. Accordingly, they redefine happiness as freedom from biopolitics that confine social subjects, or as an individual pursuit that may involve confronting and reconciling with their past traumatic experiences.

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