Body, Gender and Pain in Moroccan Prison Memoir Ḥadīth al-‘Atama


  • Martina Biondi PhD fellow - Departement of Political Science - University of Perugia



Prison Memoirs, Years of Lead, Hunger Strike, Corporeal Memory, Morocco


The article explores the themes of body, physical pain, and corporeal memory as framed by Fatna El Bouih’s and Latifa Jbabdi’s prison narratives contained in Ḥadīth al-‘Atama (Tale from the Dark). Members of the Marxist-Leninist movement, El Bouih and Jbabdi were subjected to sensory annihilation, brutal tortures, practices of gender erosion, and sexual abuses during the Moroccan Years of Lead (1965 – 1999). The article provides a critical reading of the memoirs by identifying a trajectory from a gendered inflicted suffering (abuses and tortures) to an agentive self-inflicted pain (hunger strike). Drawing on Banu Bargu’s perspective on the manipulative use of corporeality in the carceral framework, the article emphasizes the weaponization of women’s bodies in undertaking a hunger strike which ultimately improves the inmates’ conditions of detention. Furthermore, the body is defined as a crucial medium of memory as the two women approach the recollection of violent past experiences to restore historical truth about Moroccan state violence of the Years of Lead.


Martina Biondi, PhD fellow - Departement of Political Science - University of Perugia

Martina Biondi is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Political Science, University of Perugia (Italy) - historical and linguistic area. Her Ph.D. project is about female activism in Morocco during the Years of Lead (1965-1999) and women’s collective memory in the post-transitional period (since 1999). She studied Languages and Cultures (Arabic, English and French) at Universities of Macerata and Manchester. She also holds a degree in Anthropology from University of Bologna. Since 2017 she has discussed her works at academic conferences while her first publication dates to 2018. Her interests include contemporary history of North Africa and gender issues within the MENA region.





Biondi, M. „Body, Gender and Pain in Moroccan Prison Memoir Ḥadīth Al-‘Atama“. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Bd. 14, Juli 2020, S. 77-88, doi:10.17192/meta.2020.14.8259.