[P5817] "I Have a Dream": Political Imagination and Utopian Writings in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Created by Sami Sweis
Tuesday, 10/06/20 11:00 am


During the late Ottoman and the interwar periods, politicians, political theoreticians, poets, writers of narrative prose, and intellectuals offered new political visions for the Muslim world. Demanding constitutional, legal, and gendered rights, and facing the growing challenges of colonialism, these writers wrote, and spoke about, prophecies, predictions, and revelations that offered innovative venues to rethink Arab, Muslim and Ottoman politics and articulated new notions of governance and statehood. In this context, writers like Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi imagined a rebellion in hell in which scientists and intellectuals put an end to tyranny, political theoreticians like 'Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi envisioned conferences in which the perfected state of Arab politics was theorized, and politicians sought advice from religious figures in dreams regarding contemporary politics. While scholars of modern Arab thought tended to underscore the circulation of ideas about politics in mediums such as the press and the print culture more generally, we ask the following questions: what might we learn about new politics from unconventional forms of writings in which the boundaries between the present and the future and between dream and reality are intentionally unclear? How can we conceptualize Arab utopian writings and their relationship to the spread of colonialism based on these visions? How do these writings communicate both anxieties regarding the Arab future and the end of empire and modest hopes regarding a future in which Arab and Muslim dignity and sovereignty is possible? Based on new scholarship by Omina El-Shakry and Amira Mittermaier, which challenged conventional boundaries between the secular and the religious, Sufism and Orthodoxy, and psychology and faith, our interdisciplinary panel examines the meanings of the real and the political and the relationship between them in a variety of genres and forms of expression that took shape in the modern period. We hope our panel will attract scholars of history, comparative and Arabic literature, religion, and political science interested in similar explorations of the relationship between modernity, genre, politics, and political thought.





Orit Bashkin

(University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Annie Greene

(Loyola University Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;