Strasbourg, the crossroads and the borderline: Poetics of heterotopia in contemporary literature

Tsivia Frank Wygoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A city defined by centuries of geographical displacement, historical mobility, and linguistic hybridity, Strasbourg has a long literary tradition as a site of transaction, translation, and travel. Recent writings in French and German reveal a new imaginary that envisions the crossroads city as a postcolonial heterotopia. The novels Les nuits de Strasbourg (The nights of Strasbourg, 1997) by Assia Djebar and Soharas Reise (Zohara’s Journey, 1996) by Barbara Honigmann, and Jacques Derrida’s philosophical essay “The Place Name(s)–Strasbourg” (2004) encapsulate this imaginary. Taking Strasbourg as an object more than a location, they draw multilateral trajectories from Germany to France and from Algeria to Alsace, exploring traumatic memories, colonial legacies, and postcolonial identities. This article analyses representations of Strasbourg in which the double-sided geographical peripherality and cultural liminality of a border-city that is also a symbol for transnational Europe challenge traditional spaces of belonging and transcend the boundaries of national literatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-357
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Postcolonial Writing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Border-city
  • Strasbourg
  • heterotopia
  • periphery
  • postcoloniality
  • transnational literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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