Browse results

Katrien Vanpee

Abstract

This article examines the understudied political dynamics of the televised nabaṭī poetry competition Shāʿir al-Milyūn (“Million’s Poet”) to offer a new understanding of the program. Media coverage has focused on the participation of a single female participant, while scholars have assessed Shāʿir al-Milyūn as primarily an experiment in the wedding of local tradition to modern technology, overlooking the central and complex negotiations of ruler-ruled relationships taking place on the show’s stage. Shāʿir al-Milyūn’s political aspect becomes particularly apparent in the regular performances of waṭaniyyah verse, i.e. poetry for the waṭan or homeland. Reading a waṭaniyyah poem performed during the fifth season of Shāʿir al-Milyūn by Emirati poet Aḥmad bin Hayyāy al-Manṣūrī, I argue that Shāʿir al-Milyūn, rather than merely celebrating local poetic tradition, operates as a political technology that provides both poetry contestants and the show’s princely patron with opportunities to articulate and enact expectations of proper citizenship.

Hassanaly Ladha

Abstract

This study examines the architectural lexicon (ṭalal, dār, rasm, bayt) of early Arabic poetry, interrogating the relation between built and linguistic form in the nasīb. I argue that the interpenetration of the aṭlāl and khayāl motifs and of other structural elements of the qaṣīdah allegorizes the fleeting and phantasmatic nature of all linguistic and material structures. In the early Arabic episteme, poetic forms materialize history, delineating realities even as they fall endlessly into ruin. The implied theories of language and knowledge may inflect our understanding of the entire tradition of Arabo-Islamic expression emerging from this literary milieu.

Samuel England

Abstract

This article moves the poetic ijāzah from the periphery, where modern scholars have generally placed it, to a central position in Arabic poetry and mass media. The ijāzah was well developed before its adoption in the western Mediterranean, but Cordoban, Sevillian, and expatriate Sicilian poets distinguished the competitive improvised poem from corollary works in the Middle East, where it had first been invented. I argue that it is precisely the Andalusi innovations to the ijāzah’s formal development that have allowed traditional criticism to minimize its importance, against a larger trend of popular audiences appreciating performed ijāzahs, on stage and in mass media. Modern Arabic theatre and television have found enthusiastic audiences for the Andalusi poetic dialogue, a phenomenon that frames my Classical research. Media outlets, including those working closely with government officials, stage the ijāzah in ways that maximize its ideological value. As they use it to promote secularism and putatively benevolent dictatorship, propelling Andalusi literature into current Middle Eastern politics, we critics should seek to understand the dialogic form in its contemporary, insistently political phase of development.

Hanan Hammad

Abstract

This article employs the fictional writings of the Egyptian author Iḥsān ‘Abd al-Quddūs (1919–1990) to analyze the textually tangled anxiety over women’s sexuality and rapid political and socioeconomic changes in postcolonial Egypt and the Arab-East. Arguably one of the most prolific writers in Arabic in the twentieth century, ‘Abd al-Quddūs has achieved wide readership, and producers have adapted his books to popular commercial films and TV shows. Breaking taboos on women’s sexual desires, ‘Abd al-Quddūs’s work has been influential in shaping the popular notion about lesbian love wherein frustration with the postcolonial realities—inscribed by the Arab-Israeli conflict, Oil Boom, and globalization—have become entangled with the fear of women’s mobility and liberation.

Shabnum Tejani

Abstract

Recent violence in India towards minority Muslim and Dalit communities in response to their alleged killing of cows is shocking in its brutality. Those responsible maintain the cow is sacred to Hindus and a threat to its life is an attack on Hinduism itself. They claim a deep sense of hurt at what they see to be the historic violation of their religion. In contrast, liberal commentators argue that right-wing forces have become emboldened since Hindu nationalists came to power in 2014. Yet, Hindu nationalism alone cannot explain the widespread belief that people whose livelihoods depend on cattle are beyond the democratic norms of tolerance. Rather, we must consider ‘affect’ and the role of history to understand the currency of cow protection in the cultural politics of hurt in contemporary India.

Nicole Eustace

Abstract

In the middle of the eighteenth century, natural philosophers began to posit connections between emotion and electricity. The metaphors they explored then have continued methodological implications for scholars today. The electrical concepts of current, resistance, voltage, and power, provide an extended metaphor for conceptualising the history of emotions in ways that usefully bridge the biological and cultural, the individual and social, in order to more fully reveal historical links between emotion and power. By way of example, this article examines cross-cultural negotiations of power made possible through the expression, exchange, and evaluation of grief as recorded in the diary of a British-American Quaker woman who lived among Indians in the Pennsylvania borderlands in the midst of the Seven Years’ War.

Mick Warren

Abstract

Fear beset the settler community of Van Diemen’s Land throughout the 1820s as Aboriginal resistance to European dispossession intensified, a period referred to as the Black War. Representative of the emerging obligation into the 1830s to treat Indigenous people across the British imperial world more kindly, George Augustus Robinson presents a contradictory figure during this tumultuous period. Decrying the depravity of his fellow settlers and their servants, Robinson adapted the conciliatory agenda of Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur in forming the Friendly Mission, a roving missionary enterprise involving Aboriginal people in the task of their own pacification and exile. At once an insight to the sincere emotional connection he felt with his mission subjects, Robinson’s Friendly Mission journals also embody the deep contradictions of British humanitarian governance and its complicity in the logic of elimination it sought to challenge.