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Unruly Landscapes of a Diasporic Return

Mobility and Memory in Michèle Rakotoson's Juillet au pays: Chroniques d'un retour à Madagascar (2007)

Anna-Leena Toivanen

Abstract

Juillet au pays: Chroniques d'un retour à Madagascar (“July in the Country: Chronicles of a Return to Madagascar,” 2007) narrates the “homecoming” of the diasporic author Michèle Rakotoson after several years of absence. Applying a literary mobility studies perspective and contributing to the dialogue between mobilities research and postcolonial literary studies, this article analyzes how Rakotoson's return travelogue constructs Madagascan landscapes through the interplay of mobility and memory. The article focuses on the text's representations of mobility practices and how different means of transport affect the returnee's impressions of the “homely” landscapes and her own positioning with respect to them. While different mobility practices and modes of transport and their intertwinement with personal/collective memories allow for diverse perspectives on the former home, the landscapes of return remain unruly: they are mobile not only because observed while in movement, but also because their present meanings escape from the returnee.