Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Daniel Unowsky

Committee Member

Andrew Daily

Committee Member

Lia Brozgal


This dissertation is a study of the life and work of Albert Memmi, author of over twenty novels, essays, and other book length manuscripts as well as a constant public commentator on subjects related to colonialism, Jewish identity, the sociology of race and oppression, and the postcolonial world. His work includes the widely acclaimed novel The Pillar of Salt as well as The Colonizer and the Colonized - a canonical text in the history of colonial society and power relations. A Tunisian Jew who immigrated to France following his home country's independence in 1957, both Memmi's work and his complex personal identity illustrate the difficult questions and divisive issues stemming from decolonization as well as contemporary questions of identity and belonging in Europe, the Middle East, and former European colonies. This project establishes and historicizes key elements of Memmi's body of work including his association of liberation from oppression with the assertion of culture, the development of secure representative institutions, and the ability to participate in the social construction of identity. This led Memmi to advocate nationalist formations as a step towards egalitarian democratic institutions wherein racial, religious, and cultural differences could give way to broader discourses on human rights and values. I confront the argument that Memmi's more recent critique of Islam and postcolonial states reflects a shift toward a Eurocentric perspective by arguing that Memmi's ideas and beliefs have remained consistent, exhibiting a universalism influenced by French Republican ideals which have themselves grown increasingly incompatible with contemporary discourse on postcolonial identity and the persistent legacies of colonialism.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.