World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010

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LITERATURE AND POLITICAL AWARENESS - 1/2 (253) - Panel
 

· Date: WED, 21 / 2.30 - 4.30 pm

· Language: English / Français

· Description: Paper presenter: Ana Soler et Azucena Macho Vargas (Professeures, Universidad de Zaragoza), « L'Analyse de l'Espace dans l'Ouvre Romanesque d'Albert Memmi »
Dans l'œuvre romanesque d'Albert Memmi, les espaces occupent une place de choix, comme le signale d'emblée l'appareil in titulaire de certains de ses romans. L'impasse, le passage, le palais, la colonie, la ville ou le lycée constituent des exemples manifestes à l'appui de l'importance structurale de l'élément spatial dans la diégèse memmienne. Les héros ancrés dans l'espace intime de la tribu vont souffrir une fois qu'ils sortent de ce cocon protecteur et familial une confrontation douloureuse avec le monde extérieur. Cette rupture est mise en relief à travers la description des différents cadres spatiaux où le personnage évolue. Son déplacement physique, au- delà de l'espace intime, implique la perte de sa sécurité et de son équilibre psychologique. L'exploration de l'espace extérieur dévoile toute une topographie mimétique profondément antagonique avec le modus vivendi d'un individu issu d'une communauté dont l'idiosyncrasie est déterminée par le partage d'un espace clos et soumis à des normes sociales très rigides. Le ghetto s'érige comme le point de départ de ce parcours existentiel qui pousse le héros au dehors et qui représentera pour lui un point de non-retour. L'accès à différents espaces comme la colonie, le lycée ou le camp signale autant de constats de son isolement personnel et de son immersion dans un univers inconnu qui le rejette. Toutes ses tentatives d'investir ces espaces hostiles seront vouées à l'échec. Elles s'érigeront comme des éléments de remise en question de son rapport avec l'espace protecteur initial, qu'il finit par considérer comme étranger. Cette communication prétend dans une première phase répertorier les espaces qui déterminent le parcours existentiel du héros pour ensuite analyser leur implication dans son évolution personnelle. De cette façon nous parviendrons à établir la signification des lieux depuis une méthodologie éclectique pour rendre compte de l'empreinte de ceux-ci dans la personnalité du héros. Ainsi, si les espaces constituent pour l'auteur la base structurelle de la trame de ses romans, ils s'avèrent également conformer les différentes strates qui vont forger l'identité du personnage memmien.

Paper presenter: Rachid Touhtou (Researcher Professor, Institut National de Statistique et d'Economie appliquee- INSEA), “Narrating Violence, Rewriting History: State Violence, Transitional Justice and Gender Narratives in Morocco »
The focus of this paper is the experience of women's public testimonies and written memories in Morocco during the reconciliation phase. It deals with the problematic of violence as a tool to manage the political in Morocco through an analysis study of public audiences as a counter discourse and a healing therapy for the coming generations. It will highlight the gender dimension of how women lived the violence either as prisoners, wives or sisters through women public testimonies and women's writings. The paper attempts to reflect on the interaction between lived violence, gender narratives and transitional justice as elements of memory/history, democratization and needs/interests interpretation .In the early 1990’s, faced with economic constraints and pressure from international community, King Hassan II released political prisoners of the 60's and 70's and closed a desert prison Tazmamart, which he denied its existence before. He also convinced the opposition led by the USFP (Union des Socialistes des Forces Populaires) to mange the government of Alternance. Then the process of democratization was launched in 1997 with the first government from opposition led the country. This socio-political atmosphere gave more freedom to ex-prisoners to narrate their stories and how they lived the experience of prison with all its sufferings, mixed with fear and hope. The first book that recalled this was written by Ahmed Marzouki entitled: Tazmamart cellule 10. Then it launched a series of memory books on the experience of violence exercised by the state. Women as a gender suffered too much from violence exercised by the state as prisoners, wives or sisters of prisoners. Women witnessed violence inside the prison and outside it. Their testimonies public or written testify the gendered dimension of violence exercised by both the state and society. During transitional justice phase, illiterate women and well-educated ones were given the freedom to narrate their sufferings and how they lived the experience. These women through narratives of violence rewrite history, a history of memories and unfulfilled hopes and expectations. It is a collective healing therapy through exorcising violent collective memory of the past. It is a contested terrain of needs/interests interpretation.

Paper presenter: Irene Siegel (Assistant Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature, Department of Comparative Literature, Hofstra University), “Questioning Authority: The Politics and Poetics of Islam in Mahmud al-Mas'adi's Haddatha Abu Hurayra qaal'”
In his highly intertextual, experimental novel Haddatha Abu Hurayra Qaal, Tunisian writer Mahmud al-Mas’adi engages a complex range of literary, religious and philosophical discourses. A monumental literary and political figure in Tunisia, al-Mas’ady’s mission was to re-invigorate arabophone Tunisian cultural production in the wake of its domination and repression by the French. His writing reveals his profound influence by Islamic modernist reformers such as Muhammed Abduh and Muhammed Iqbal, as well as his active appropriation of European modernist philosophy and literature, always in service to a Tunisian cultural fulcrum that reversed the “center/margin” model of European power. In Haddatha, al-Mas’adi mobilizes both the authoritative stature of the Hadith literature and the more subversive and elusive domain of Sufism. Haddatha both evokes and subverts the authoritativeness of its main character, an eponym of the revered yet controversial figure in Islamic history identified as the most prolific source of Hadith. Al-Mas’adi’s “Abu Hurayra” bears little resemblance to the historical figure, yet his use of the name is evocative of his role at the center of a number of critical debates on the authority of the Hadith literature. Throught the text, Al-Masa’dy’s reader is called upon to discern the reliability of suspect narratives with little or no context, and extract meaning from often obscure or highly poetic language. The text thus requires a rigorous intellectual work from his readers, a kind of secular ijtih’d or act of “exertion” and reasoning judgment that they must apply to negotiate their way through its disorienting terrain. I would argue that in al-Mas’ad’ this exertion is also mystical in nature. In this way, al-Masa’dy would seem to call for a balance between reason and the need to recognize its limits invoking an active Sufism as a mode of human development and a challenge to blind orthodoxy. The text thus both models an active Muslim subjectivity in its main character, and demands this exertion of its readers. It is to this modelling that I’d like to turn my attention in this paper. By examining the role of the Hadith, Sufism and modernism in Haddatha Abu Hurayra qaal, I argue that al-Mas’ady’s work invokes Sufism as a simultaneous challenge to European secularist, rationalist models that deny the role of faith, and to what he identifies as an unquestioning, ossified model of Islam whereby dogma has replaced the historic dynamism of debate and rigorous inquiry.