AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume4, Number1. February  2020                                   Pp. 95-110

Reading Heterotopia as a Site of Resistance in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day (1988)

Department of English
University of Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria

Department of English
University of Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria


Abstract PDF

This article uses Foucault’s concept of heterotopia to explain Gloria Naylor’s metaphoric spatial representation of resistance in Mama Day (1988). It seeks to read Willow Springs, a fictitious island lying outside the U.S borders, as a resistant locus that presents a subversive spatio-temporal paradigm as it suggests a possibility for transformation from isolation and marginalization to agency and potential liberation. Heterotopias emphasize the critical potential of space to challenge the hegemony of dominant discourses and give voice to peripheral positions. These spaces, according to Foucault, address discourses of resistance effectively through counter-sites. In Mama Day, then, we argue that Gloria Naylor molds the fictional island of Willow Springs as a heterotopic space, a counter-site where black groups contest the dominant discourses of race and gender. Therefore, this article concludes that in her portrayal of a heterotopic space with an inverting character, Naylor transforms a physical place into a site of agency where the subversive yet productive dynamics of heterotopia interrupt and deconstruct the existing ideologies of mainstream culture.

Cite as:

Soumia Bentahar, S., & Guerroudj,  N.(2020). Reading Heterotopia as a Site of Resistance in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day (1988). Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 4 (1) 95-110 .


Bentahar Soumia is a lecturer of Contemporary British Literature at UATL, Algeria. She is currently conducting a doctoral research on contemporary African American women’s fiction at Djillali Liabes University of Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria. Her major area of interest is contemporary American literature. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3490-8821 Email address: soumia.bentahar@yahoo.com

Guerroudj Noureddine is a professor at Djillali Liabbes University of Sidi Bel Abbes, Department of English, Algeria. His main areas of interest include teaching literature, didactics of academic writing, and Contemporary English literature. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1757-0029 Email address: guerroudjnoureddine@yahoo.fr