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Amy Kallander

Abstract

This article examines love as a facet of nation building in constructions of modern womanhood and national identity in the 1950s and 1960s. In Tunisia and France, romantic love was evoked to define an urban, middle-class modernity in which the gender norms implicit in companionate marriage signaled a break with the past. These ideals were represented in fiction and women's magazines and elaborated in the novel genre of the advice column. Yet this celebration was interrupted by concern about “mixed marriage” and the rise of anti-immigrant discrimination targeting North Africans in France. Referring to race or religion, debates about interracial marriage in Tunisia and the sexual stereotyping of North African men in France reveal the continuity of colonialism's racial legacies upon postcolonial states. The idealization of marital choice as a testament to individual and national modernity was destabilized by transnational intimacies revealing the limits of the nation-state's liberatory promise to women.