[P6362] Storytelling, Narratives, and Social Biography in the Middle East

Created by Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt
Wednesday, 12/01/21 2:00 pm

SUMMARY:

Storytelling, narratives, social biographies, and testimonies have emerged as a technique of empowerment and bearing witness for Black and Chicana feminists concerned about the mainstream representation of women like themselves whose histories and realities were erased and misrepresented. Employing the binary of oppressor/oppressed, bell hooks argues that as “subjects, people have the right to define their own reality, establish their own identities, name their history. As objects, one’s reality is defined by others, one’s identity created by others, one’s history named only in ways that define one’s relationship to those who are subject.” As such, for oppressed people to become subjects and engage in liberatory projects, resistance to mainstream myths about them entails the shaping of one’s history, identity, and reality. Scholars of the Middle East have been employing life histories and social biographies as a venue to provide a nuanced understanding of the conditions under which people live, act, and organize. The life history of a single individual can illuminate larger patterns and dynamics of world history. By analyzing where a particular individual sits within in a larger social structure and then tracing the trajectory of their life history, we have opportunity to think anew about the relationship between structure and agency – about the relationship between contingency and determinism in history. It also offers us a way to understand and communicate how large-scale world historical processes are experienced and made meaningful by actual people in actual situations.

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Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt

(California State University Stanislaus)
Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt is an Assistant Professor of U.S., Middle East, and World History at California State University, Stanislaus. His research focuses on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the political economy of oil.
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Zainab Saleh

(Haverford College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer;

Alize Arican

(Rutgers University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Mai Alkhamissi

(Princeton University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Nadia Jones-Gailani

(Central European University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;