Macquarie University
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Leila Alaoui’s Les Marocains (2010-2014) as photographie engagée: exploring the place of the other in the contemporary French cultural imagination

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posted on 2022-03-28, 17:37 authored by Chloe De Freitas
Drawing on the works of postcolonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha, and Edward Saïd’s critique of Orientalism, this thesis addresses the ideological construction of Otherness in the contemporary French cultural imagination by examining how established modes of representation are challenged within the gallery space. Examined in relation to exhibition spaces, I argue Alaoui’s Les Marocains is a postcolonial work that engages with the deconstruction of pervasive colonial stereotypes, showing photography can be a medium for articulating resistance to dominant narratives of cultural identity. Taking cues from the French style of writing known as écriture engagée, or activist writing, a literary style that works to right the wrongs of Oriental representations (Vogl, 10), I demonstrate how Alaoui’s Les Marocains utililses the photographic image in a style that I call photographie engagée. Photographie engagée is both a method of reading and a professional practice that considers the role of images in the construction and re-vision of cultural identity in terms of the relationship between the photographer and the subject, between ethics and aesthetics, between the photographer and the photograph. I propose Alaoui’s Les Marocains functions as photographie engagée to realise the potential of art as a medium for considering tensions between self and space.


Table of Contents

Introduction : framing the work of Leila Alaoui -- Chapter 1. Orientalism and otherness : exploring the place of the other in the contemporary French cultural imagination -- Chapter 2. Leila Alaoui’s Les Marocains (2010-14) as photographie engagée -- Chapter 3. Image, space, context : negotiating Moroccan identity in the French gallery space -- Conclusion : beyond the frame -- Appendices -- References.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 84-96

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures

Department, Centre or School

Department of International Studies, Languages and Cultures

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Bénédicte André


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1 online resource (ix, 96 pages) colour portraits

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