A Gypsy in the Maghreb: Nomadic Subjectivity in Rosita Forbes’s Travel Writings
Copyright (c) 2021 Mariaconcetta Costantini
Questo lavoro è fornito con la licenza Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 4.0 Internazionale.
This article focuses on two travel writings by Rosita Forbes, based on two expeditions to the Maghreb she made in the early 1920s: The Secret of the Sahara (1921), a travelogue about her pioneering exploration of the remote oasis of Kufara; and El Raisuni: The Sultan of the Mountains: His Life Story (1924), a generic hybrid combining biography and adventure, based on her interviews of a Moroccan chief of bandits. Special attention is paid to Forbes’s representation of her complex identity of transnational subject crossing a multiplicity of borders, as well as to her portrayal of a global South to which she is irresistibly lured despite its many dangers. Drawing on Rosi Braidotti’s idea of “nomadic subjectivity”, Julia Kristeva’s theorization of strangerhood and postcolonial concepts, the article examines Forbes’s transnationality, offering evidence of her openness to, and fertile interaction with, otherness. The lure of the South is instead analysed through the polysemic noun “sun” which, insistently mentioned in Forbes’s 1944 autobiography, tropes an attractive, albeit unsafe, southern dimension of freedom and self-refashioning. Deeply imbued with Orientalist clichés, this South is the space in which Forbes decided to wander like a gypsy, “a nomadic subject” who, in Braidotti’s terms, rethinks her gender role and sexuality by “[r]elinquishing all idea, desire, or nostalgia for fixity”.