[P4948] Arab Leftist Intellectuals as (re)Active Agents in times of Change

Created by Jeremy Randall
Monday, 11/20/17 1:00pm

SUMMARY:

While there have been inquiries into Arab cultural and intellectual productions as carriers for nationalist, pan-Arabist, or regime propagandas in anthropological, historical, and cultural studies, it is only lately that scholars have investigated the interconnectedness of culture with political projects, in particular, leftist movements (Abu-Lughod 2005, Khuri-Makdisi 2010, Litvin 2011, and Stone 2007). These recent studies have expanded our knowledge of culture's engagements with wider political discourses, while also yielding insights into theorizations of ideology, injustice, and the nation-state. Building upon these studies, this panel aims to further excavate how leftist intellectual and cultural productions become a political force that challenges normative politics in times of change. Therefore, we can see how leftists across the Arab Middle East have informed one another or drew upon preceding iterations, while not locking them into linear teleologies. Considering the fluidity of national boundaries within the region's cultural and intellectual movements, the panel examines works from the late nineteenth century up to the late twentieth century from multiple regions in the Arab Middle East, bringing together history, anthropology, and cultural studies.

Collectively, the papers in this panel investigate culture as simultaneously being informed and informing trajectories, conditions, and contexts of their time. First, they explore the role of culture in representing ideologies and circulating them in wider society as counter narratives to state and regional hegemonic discourses. Second, the papers do not isolate these works within the confines of the nation-state but rather situates them in a broader context by accounting for their transnational connections. In contrast to studies that treat culture and politics as discrete categories or one where the the former is subservient to the latter, our approaches argue that art and politics are interconnected and contingent upon one another. More specifically, the first paper analyzes the subversive theater of Ziad Rahbani from the Lebanese Civil War era as a way to translate leftist theorizations of injustice to counter narratives of sectarianism. The second paper focuses on revolutionary departures from hegemonic Nasserist socialism following the Naksa amongst Lebanon political and cultural leftist works. Finally, the third paper analyzes how early engagements with socialist thought and theory challenged status quo politics during the late colonial period in Egypt. Taken together, these papers seek to document and analyze the role of culture in questioning the conjuncture that Arab nation-states found themselves in during the colonial and post-colonial eras.

DISCIPLINES:

Hist

ABSTRACTS:

MEMBERS:

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Jens-Peter Hanssen

(University of Toronto)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Jeremy Randall

(The Graduate Center, CUNY)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Mohamad Hodeib

(The Graduate Center, CUNY)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;
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Samar Nour

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