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Métissages: Williams Sassine's Saint Monsieur Baly, Wirriyamu, and Mémoire d'une peau

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2012
JournalPostcolonial Text
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


The concept of métissage has appeared in numerous discourses throughout history to refer to cultural encounters and the mixing of races. Thus, Gloria Onyeoziri notes, métissage is 'a term which [...] still carries significant traces of historical practices of oppression, psychological disturbances, sexual exploitation and struggles for the survival of cultural identities." In colonial Africa, mixed race individuals problematised the relationship between Self and Other, and the figure of the métis became inextricably intertwined with colonial histories of domination and exclusion. However, in the postcolonial era, the objectified figure of the métis emerged as a liberated and free speaking subject, and new models of métissage became available. Métissage materialised as a site of purposeful ambiguity, leading Françoise Lionnet to define it as "the site of undecidability and indeterminacy," a position "from which to challenge hegemonic languages." This article focuses on three novels by Francophone Guinean writer Williams Sassine: Saint Monsieur Baly (1973), Wirriyamu (1976) and Mémoire d'une peau (1998). The study examines the ways in which Sassine explores different manifestations of métissage in his fictional work to highlight the tensions and paradoxes underlying postcolonial identity in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa.