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Exile, memory and citizenship – a comparative study of woman’s autobiographies from Southern and Northern Europe (M.G. Llansol and Kristjana Gunnars)

Sandra Guerreiro Dias
Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra
Sandra Guerreiro Dias
Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper results from a wider project whose aim is to analyse the effects of exile on some women’s autobiographies. I am interested in understanding how women’s writings – and the politicization of their experience of exile – brings the private into the public. Considering such aspects as exile, memory and silence I analyse the formulation of a site of the other which is autobiographical in one sense, and not all in another. The complex autobiographical narratives of both authors, Maria Gabriela Llansol and Kristjana Gunnars’s, cross genre boundaries and disciplines in a constant switching of private and public. This paper will examine how the errant narratives of Llansol and Gunnars, who as women, writers and citizens are relegated to the margins, reflect from the outside on the social and political changes occurring in their respective countries: Portugal and Iceland, in the 1970’s and 80’s. It will also address the issue of how their feeling of nomadic movement was turned into a project for rethinking citizenship and how silence became a voice in perpetual motion. Finally, I will attempt to describe how the different tensions in these two women’s autobiographies generate a reflection on citizenship through the interrogation of borderlands, showing how the private and public spheres can dynamically coexist as spheres of continuous political struggles.