Master class – Réda Bensmaïa (Brown University)

Harraga –African migration to the North in literture and theory

organized together with the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies OSL  

Date: Friday, 26 October 2012
Time: 14.00-16.30
Location: Ravenstijnzaal, Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, Utrecht University

The Masterclass is concerned with what has been produced on the so-called “Harraga” phenomenon, that is the frenetic migration to the “North” by thousands of Africans lately. From Arabic حراقة, arrāga, arrāg (those who burn), the term addresses the migration to Europe and the practice of burning one’s papers upon landing to avoid identification. The phenomenon has been recently discussed in literature and film, and this masterclass will consider two novels and one film in detail: Morrocan writer Tahar Benjelloun’s novel Partir (Gallimard 2007) (English: Leaving Tangiers, Arcadia Books 2009) and Algerian writer Boualem Sansal’s novel Harraga (Gallimard 2007) (available also in German from Merlin Verlag 2011). Students are asked to read both novels entirely. Furthermore, the discussion will focus on the film “Harragas” by Algerian film-maker Merzak Allouach (2009), which you have to watch before the masterclass. As theoretical material, you are asked to prepare Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle (Black & Red, 1984).

In preparation of the master class, students are invited to send in focused questions beforehand, either relation to the material or to their own research (please send to