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Hejaiej, Mounira (1992) Women's oral narratives in Tunis. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study is based on oral narratives collected during six months fieldwork from December 1989 to May 1990 in Tunis. The work examines the role and importance of story-telling in the lives of my three Beldi informants - all women from the city of Tunis - and explores the themes contained in their tales in the light of their personal histories and their own interpretations. Through the act of narration women produce a vision of themselves and of their moral and physical world. In the narratives discussed here, contradictory and competing pictures are painted. One narrator presents a conservative moralistic view of the role of women. The two others produce through their narratives a rebellious, racy and subversive view of women. These contradictory visions of women are produced by women for women. The introduction first reviews research into Tunisian story-telling, then relevant methodology and theory in general, and finally outlines the approach adopted in this thesis. Background information is also provided on story-telling in Tunis, the conduct of fieldwork and the three narrators used in this study. Chapters two and three concentrate on the narrators and their backgrounds. Chapter Two presents the social background of Beldi - people of the city of Tunis - who form the subject matter of the tales. Chapter Three concentrates on the relationship between the women and their tales. Chapter four, five and six identify and group the recurring themes contained in the tales. The thematic categories relate to power, honour and shame, fate and other topics of concern to women in their daily lives. Chapter seven, finally, concentrates on the use of formulae, asides and diminutives as salient features which give the tales their particular character. Appendix I contains the full list of stories and the English translations of the stories discussed in the body of the thesis. Appendix II contains the Arabic texts of selected stories.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:05

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