Arab Studies Quarterly Latest Issues
Below you can find the table of contents for the latest issues of Arab Studies Quarterly. All articles are Open Access and links to each article are provided below. The journal is hosted on Science Open and can be found here to read online.
Abstract: This article examines the narrative of resistance to social subordination and the manipulated notions of faithfulness and treason in Hisham Matar’s In the Country of Men (2006) observed through the lens of the child narrator, 9-year-old Suleiman, who grows critical of the patriarchy and power hierarchy of Libyan society’s private and public spheres. In the private sphere, his mother’s retelling of her forced marriage at a young age informs his initial aversion of patriarchy. In the public sphere, the Revolutionary Committee’s policing and suppression of dissent, and the neighbor’s public execution amid a cheering crowd, shed light on the dynamics of subservience and divisiveness. Though the novel takes place in 1979 Libya, it raises questions on the possibility of individual agency and rise of the citizen against a post-colonial Arab despotic regime, where patriarchal authoritarianism, rooted in colonialism, creates a system of dependency and subjugation that undermines citizens’ power and manipulates faith as a medium of submissiveness. This article concludes with some reflections on the outcomes of 2011 Arab uprisings with regards to active citizenship.
Abstract: This article looks at the second part of Dimitri Nasrallah’s novel Blackbodying (2004), which takes the form of an embedded novella, “Canadian Fiction.” This novella explores how an immigrant’s traumatic diasporic experience silences intercultural dialogue in an inhospitable Toronto. Drawing on the conceptual framework of internalization, this study first examines the stigmatizing condition of the immigrant in exile, which projects a whimsical obsession with Heidi, a fictional woman, as a nostalgic object of desire. Second, the novella underpins the loss of real-life dialogue that disfigures Sameer’s genuine pursuit of social integration. This study, therefore, argues that the loss of the ideal not only traps immigrants in a never-ending chase but also threatens their very capacity to recreate third space realities. Third, the study negates the often-romanticized meta-narrative of successful immigrants living in welcoming cities.
Abstract: This article examines the narrative of resistance to social subordination and the manipulated notions of faithfulness and treason in Hisham Matar’s In the Country of Men (2006) observed through the lens of the child narrator, 9-year-old Suleiman, who grows critical of the patriarchy and power hierarchy of Libyan society’s private and
public spheres. In the private sphere, his mother’s retelling of her forced marriage at a young age informs his initial aversion of patriarchy. In the public sphere, the Revolutionary Committee’s policing and suppression of dissent, and the neighbor’s public execution amid a cheering crowd, shed light on the dynamics of subservience and divisiveness. Though the novel takes place in 1979 Libya, it raises questions on the possibility of individual agency and rise of the citizen against a post-colonial Arab despotic regime, where patriarchal authoritarianism, rooted in colonialism, creates a system of dependency and subjugation that undermines citizens’ power and manipulates faith as a medium of submissiveness. This article concludes with some reflections on the outcomes of 2011 Arab uprisings with regards to active citizenship.
Abstract: In 2014, China and Egypt upgraded their bilateral relations to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership, providing a new framework under which both states have been able to intensify and deepen their cooperation as never before. Building on the concept of strategic partnership as a newly emerging framework of international
cooperation, this article examines the dynamics of the Sino-Egyptian comprehensive strategic partnership from the perspective of the driving motivations of both actors, its policy manifestations as well as its potential challenges in the future. The article contends that while the Sino-Egyptian comprehensive strategic partnership has offered an ideal framework of win-win bilateral cooperation that corresponded to the strategic interests and needs of both actors in a critical historical juncture post-2013, this framework, which involves a number of imbedded limitations, might not continue to serve bilateral interactions in the medium and long terms, particularly as it pertains to their future corresponding security and economic concerns.
Abstract: This paper provides a Jungian interpretation of the frame story of 1001 Nights. Using a psychodynamic approach, the key characters in the frame story are considered as different pieces of the female psyche during the journey of individuation. This reveals the story’s hidden content about inner enemies of the female psyche, such as a tyrannical animus that feeds from an oppressive environment. With a happy ending that represents the union of the ego and the animus, 1001 Nights highlights a path to women’s empowerment and social harmony that involves facing inner and outer demons. The essay also argues that with its emphasis on freedoms as a source of individual and social peace, 1001 Nights captures the Zeitgeist of the period from which it emerged, namely 9th-century Abbasid rule, particularly under the reign of Caliph al-Mamun.
Keywords: 1001 Nights, Jung, psychodynamism, individuation, animus
Marwa Essam Eldin Fahmy Alkhayat
Abstract: The present study examines the aesthetic features of Sabry Musa’s Lord of the Spinach Field (1987) through Karl-Heinz Bohrer’s “Utopia of the Subject” to foreground Homo’s quest for a wished-for yet unattainable reality. Post-Colonial Utopianism depicts man’s inner turmoil to force an act of willful rethinking to enhance the “anticipatory consciousness” of a better life, a point interrogated within Ernst Bloch’s Principle of Hope to propose the concept of the “Not-Yet-Become”: the not realized futuristic reality. Therefore, the interest is in utopia/dystopia historicities as analytical markers of historical inquiry to analyze specific space/time coordinates; post-colonial pitfalls of a techno-science dystopia. As such, the remarkable characteristic of Post-Colonial Utopianism is critique, and “Subjective Utopia” strives to achieve a breach in the teleological ideology of historical structures; thereby, transformation is the central aesthetic strategy of post-colonial critique.
Keywords: Egyptian Science Fiction, Bloch’s Ontology of Not-Yet, Subjective Utopia, Post-colonial Utopianism
Mohamed Salah Eddine Madiou
Abstract: The Lebanese Civil War, stretching over two decades of Lebanon’s history, features prominently in any discussion of Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman (2014), a novel fashioned according to the pent-up frustrations of a post-trauma period. Alameddine’s novel manifests traumatic signposts of the civil war, which make it indelibly situational, and accordingly latches onto complex psychological issues. It is branded with the mark of “abject,” which besots its pages, a phenomenon that threatens identity beyond measure, triggering even an existentialist entropy. In making an effort to (persistently) “describe” this complex phenomenon beyond ken, the novel enmeshes in a baroque and a quite wordy style that tells of an arduous quest on the author’s (and characters’) part to find the “right” word for “abject.” Drawing mainly on Sigmund Freud’s essay “The Uncanny” and Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror, this article proposes to skirt the psychological archaeology of “abject” in An Unnecessary Woman. It argues that the Lebanese Civil War is not the originator of the characters’ feeling of abjection in the novel. Rather, it contends that this feeling, already inherent in the human being and thus universal, is activated by abject threats, such as, in this premise, the civil war, its suspect entourage, and aging.
Keywords: Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman, Abject, Trauma, Arab fiction, Julia Kristeva
Abstract: To defend the thesis of “permanent violence” in Yemen that leads to state failure and in the context of the structural crisis of capital (where Keynesianism has reached its structural limits), this article will look at the Yemeni war through a Marxist lens. It aims to analyze the deep sociological roots of the Yemeni war through the laws of capital as presented by Marx and to show why the Yemeni war is a goal in itself for Imperialism. Three main laws of capital are considered: (1) the general law of capital accumulation developed in Volume I of Das Kapital, (2) the law of the “transformation” of value into price as presented in Volume III of Das Kapital, and (3) the law relating to the contradiction between production and consumption (leading to a crisis of overproduction and a crisis of underconsumption) that was developed by Marx in the Grundrisse, in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, and by contemporary Marxist author, Istvan Mészáros. All of these laws are all tied to the Marxist “law of value” which refers to the idea that socially necessary labor time acts as the ultimate regulating force in exchange and production under Imperialism.
Keywords: Marx, waste, war, militarism, Yemen, value
Mohamed Salah Eddine Madiou
Abstract: The world, under Donald Trump’s presidency, inaugurated a “new” way of dealing with international affairs, one abrupt and unapologetic, making the world into a world of warcraft. Trump came up with a “might is right” rule as a “solution” that proved, because official, to be of such a strong force of influence and legitimization it gained inter/intranational traction, impacting the behavior of both the ruling and “less ruling” circles. In this theoretical essay, I locate the necessity to introduce a new concept, Warientalism, that refers to a discourse of power befitting today’s “politics,” and some “politics” of bygone days. It proposes to conceptually define Warientalism, and critically examine its discourse.
Keywords: Warientalism, Donald Trump, gossip, boulitique, politics, Orientalism, Edward Said, the Renaissance
Abstract: To illuminate the complicated relationship between the authorities and society in the contemporary Arab world, this paper draws on Ibn Khaldun’s propositions. By applying Edward Said’s notion of traveling theory, it traces, interrogates, and evaluates ways in which multiple readings of Ibn Khaldun’s theory have been (re)formulated, transplanted, and circulated by other authors, and how these theories traveled from an earlier point to another time and place where they come into new prominence. Furthermore, it examines how three contemporary Arab thinkers (Abid Al-Jabri, Abdullah Laroui, and Nazih Ayubi) addressed and interpreted the heritage of Ibn Khaldun and his theory on state formation and authority constitutive in the Arab Islamic world (particularly the Sunni world). The paper concludes that, in comparison with Said’s “traveling theory” intentions, the three modern Arabic readings of Ibn Khaldun’s theory were not traveling as much as it was attempting to uproot, distort, suffocate, and even bury Ibn Khaldun’s original theory, as well as obliterate and culturally appropriate the features of the original theory, and portray it as the opposite of progress and modernization, in favor of enhancing the dominance of Western epistemology.
Keywords: Ibn Khaldun, Edward Said, traveling theory, decolonialization, Arab State, authority, legitimacy
Abstract: China relies on soft power for its economic and political expansion, and this strategy has proven effective in achieving the goals set by the Chinese administration. China-Arab relations have developed greatly in the past ten years, in parallel with the increase in the number of Arab students in China. This article examines the Chinese soft power strategy towards the Arab region through student exchange programs, and the role of students in the development of Sino-Arab relations. China achieves strategic goals through soft power. A survey was conducted on a group of Arab students in China, specifically in Wuhan, to learn more about the orientations of Arab students towards Chinese policies and to get a clearer idea of life and study in China. The article concludes with new concepts about life in China, and about the Chinese environment, which have proved to be attractive to Arab students.
Keywords: education, soft power, China, exchange programs, Arab region
Abstract: Informed by theories of code-switching, memory, and trauma, my reading of Lebanese American Patricia Sarrafian Ward’s diasporic novel The Bullet Collection (2003) centers on its multilingual usages to demonstrate how language play makes visible states of liminality or in-betweenness: between Lebanon and the US, the past and the present, the present and the future, childhood and adulthood, and trauma and recovery. I argue that this liminality, laid bare by a creative interpretation of the (mis)- and (dis)uses of multilingualism, is a concept that ties trauma, nostalgia, and homeness together and is fleshed out in three psychodynamic spaces: social contact zones, checkpoints, and liminal points. I zero in on code-switched materials, both overt and covert, to reveal how they are deeply, if often inconspicuously, connected to expressing traumas and (re)negotiating identities. By adopting this approach, I contribute, first, to the field of literary linguistics, relatively under-explored in connection with Arab American and Anglophone Arab fiction, and, second, chart a new pathway towards decolonizing trauma studies by examining its relationships with multilingualism, war, and nostalgia.
Keywords: code-switching, multilingualism, Lebanese civil war, trauma, nostalgia, Patricia Sarrafian Ward
Abstract: Since Sirocco, a 1951 film, the United States’ cinema, Hollywood, has produced many terrorism films that have portrayed Arabs and Muslims unjustly as “terrorists.” After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hollywood’s projection of prejudice and negative stereotypes of the Arabs and Muslims have been fostered. The post-9/11 period was an era in which the White House, the Pentagon, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contributed directly and indirectly to the production of several terrorism films. In Zero Dark Thirty, gifts were offered to some CIA agents in order to obtain classified information and various accesses. In Iron Man, funding and resources were provided, a green light was given, and strict regulations were imposed by the Pentagon to portray the military in a positive light. In Syriana, a CIA agent had a friendly relationship with the film screenwriter, and much of the film events were inspired by the agent’s personal experiences. The post-9/11 films have been used to spread stereotyped demeaning images of the Arabs and Muslims and perpetuated a constant distortion of Muslim communities. They have therefore severely targeted Muslims and depicted them as murderers and criminals, who express the feeling of hatred towards Western civilization.
Keywords: Hollywood, U.S. government, American politics, terrorism, films, Arabs, Muslims, stereotypes
Abstract: Al-Khumasiya was a highly influential industrial complex that operated in Syria from 1946 until its nationalization in 1961. During the 1950s, it was the pride and joy of Syrian government officials, who took dignitaries on tours of its premises, boasting of the quality of its products. President Nasser of Egypt praised its achievements, before seizing the company in 1961 and transferring its ownership to the state, where it remains as of 2020. Many consider the nationalization of al-Khumasiya as the beginning of the end of the Syrian economy. And yet, nothing has been written about it, either in English or Arabic. Its records were destroyed, and its five founders died without leaving behind a written account of their experience. This article looks at the company, how it was founded, and what was so important for Syria throughout the 1940s and 1950s.
Keywords: Syria, Egypt, Damascus, socialism, industry, Gamal ͑Abdul Nasser
Abdel Karim Daragmeh and Bilal Hamamra
Abstract: This article aims to illustrate the dialogic significance of the trance dance, a discursive scene of women’s bodily expressions, in the Algerian feminist postcolonial novelist and film director, Assia Djebar’s Fantasia (1985). While Djebar’s literary oeuvre has been subject to enormous critical readings, this essay focuses on Djebar’s representation of the female body as a medium of subversive expression in the ritualistic trance dance. Following the critical lines of psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and postmodern and postcolonial feminism, we contend that the trance scene is an uncanny, subjective space of women’s collective voices that undermine patriarchal authority. Women’s movement into the domestic sphere of the Harem is a retreat into the semiotic, imaginary order and an escape from the symbolic order that deprives women from their bodies and their expressions. Thus, we propose that the trance privileges the matriarch’s body/signs over the phallocentric system of Arab, benign patriarchy, her unconscious over social consciousness, irrationality over rationality, the ritual over the real, and ultimately the feminine over the masculine. The dissident practice of periodic dancing gives a space for dancers to claim dramatic authority and agency over their bodies, that is, to empower themselves socially and psychologically despite the patriarchal constraints lurking over them.
Keywords: Assia Djebar’s Fantasia, women’s subversive bodies, the trance dance, Arab patriarchy, uncanny, jouissance, semiotic order
Durham: Duke University Press, 2019. 352 pages. Paperback $28.95
Reviewed by Saʻed Atshan
New York: Metropolitan Books, 2020. 336 pages. Hardcover $27.99
Reviewed by Peter Bartu
BOOKS IN BRIEF
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2020. 272 pages. Hardcover $50.00
New York: Columbia University Press, 2020. 280 pages. Hardcover $24.95
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019. 296 pages. Paperback $26.00