The Politics of space in Leila Aboulela’s Minaret and Jamal Mahjoub’s A Line in the River: Khartoum, City of Memory




Anglophone Arabic fiction, Jamal Mahjbou, Leila Aboulela, postcolonial fiction, space studies


The preoccupation with architecture, geography, and borders in the work of Anglo-Sudanese writers Leila Aboulela and Jamal Mahjoub is to a large extent tied to the postcolonial mindset the two authors share and the minority status of the Anglophone Arab literary tradition. This tradition aims, among other things, at rewriting space to negotiate questions of identity, power, and resistance. Drawing on recent research on the intersections between the postcolonial field and the field of space studies, this paper argues that, although Aboulela and Mahjoub both seek to expose the spatial organization of social reality, that is to say the ways in which space is both conceived and shaped to reinforce existing power differentials, they diverge on the esthetic and political strategies to challenge this power configuration. Therefore, by comparing Aboulela’s Minaret (2006) and Mahjoub’s A Line in the River: Khartoum, City of Memory (2018), it will be argued that, while Aboulela displaces the larger geographies of the nation and the city in favor of urban microstructures that become the site of dissent and empowerment for the alienated migrant subject, Mahjoub embraces the geography of the nation as holding the key both to the collective project of nation-building and the more personal task of coming to terms with the plurality of postcolonial identity.

Author Biography

Ahmed Ben Amara, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, KSA

Assistant Professor

Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, KSA


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Date of Publication

2023-10-05 — Updated on 2024-01-02

How to Cite

Ben Amara, A. (2024). The Politics of space in Leila Aboulela’s Minaret and Jamal Mahjoub’s A Line in the River: Khartoum, City of Memory. International Journal of Arabic-English Studies, 24(1), 267–284.



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