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Narratives around Sacred Places in Sinjar (Iraq) and the Islamic State’s Genocide against Yezidis
On August 3, 2014, the Sinjar region of Northern Iraq was attacked by the “Islamic State”. Killing and abducting thousands, the jihadists also destroyed many of the religious minority’s shrines. Others, however, were defended by local fighters and groups affiliated with the PKK. In the aftermath of the genocide, stories of divine intervention into the defence bolstered land claims of serveral Kurdish political groups. Through extensive fieldwork in the region, I trace imaginaries of Sinjar as a landscape of resistance and a communal history of continuous persecution to current political disputes and attempts to construct a unified Yezidi identity.

Abstract

Many Jewish communities around the world have maintained a special site, known as a genizah, for discarding written materials. This article focuses on the genizah of the town of Safed in the Galilee. At the end of the sixteenth century, the Safed Genizah preserved Hebrew manuscripts written by Ḥayyim Vital (d. 1620), foremost student of the influential kabbalist Yitsḥaḳ Luria (d. 1572). These manuscripts were excavated and edited in the mid-seventeenth century and became authoritative texts in the history of Jewish esotericism. My study describes Vital’s burial of his manuscripts and the editorial efforts of the Jewish scholars who followed him, particularly Avraham Azulai (d. 1643) in Hebron and Ya‘akov Tsemaḥ (d. 1666) and his fellowship in Jerusalem. Through analysis of their rhetoric and scribal practices, I explore the ethical, philological, and material aspects of this chapter in the pre-history of Genizah research.

Open Access
In: Philological Encounters
Author:

Abstract

During the past thirty years, scholars of Arab cultural politics have struggled to articulate modern Palestinians’ unique ways of viewing the medieval past. Al-Andalus in particular fascinates authors and visual artists of Palestine. Our current theoretical framework within Arabic literature is poorly adapted to the sweeping historiography that these authors and artists create. This article revises the academic consensus that nostalgia is the organizing principle for Palestinian expressions of Andalusi identity. It provides a new way to understand the relationship between modern Palestinian poetics and the idea of a past Arab Iberia. Shifting from the affective theory of nostalgia that culminated in the early 1990s, I argue that Palestine’s version of al-Andalus in the twenty-first century works primarily as an artistic technique of reading Maghrebi texts rather than as an idyllic geographic place.

In: Journal of Arabic Literature

Abstract

Through a close reading of several poems by Maḥmūd Darwīsh, this article argues for the critical distinction between the concepts of metaphor and metonymy in Darwīsh’s work, expanding on the claim that in Darwīsh’s poetry, “Palestine endured and became metaphor.” It argues that metonymy, which might be understood as a form of direct replacement, forecloses imaginative possibilities (both poetic and political) in a way that is related to the work of colonial violence. Metaphor, by contrast, represents a form of imaginative work that opens out onto possibilities that are concealed by the literal and is thus structurally similar to the work of solidarity. Metaphor, as deployed by Darwīsh in his poetics, can become a mode of recapturing possibilities from a past that the present has attempted to obliterate. It can thus be read as pointing towards a different sort of future, one that aligns with the struggle for decolonization (more specifically, the decolonization of Palestine). The essay concludes by outlining the critical work that would be receptive to such a poetics as a form of solidarity.

In: Journal of Arabic Literature
Author:

Abstract

This article addresses a discursive problem with the study of Palestinian literature alongside Israeli literature: by focusing on the intersections between Hebrew and Arabic literatures, scholars have created a hybrid that precludes comparison between two separate entities. This article surveys the theoretical and political drawbacks of this approach and then moves to theorize Palestinian literature outside its pairing with Israeli literature as a global multilingual literary system that is major yet non-hegemonic. I suggest that Palestinian literature can be informed by theories of world literature, on the one hand, and inform world literature about the way diasporic literature moves in the world, on the other hand. Last, I discuss the novel Tafṣīl thānawī by ʿAdanīyah Shiblī in order to demonstrate a possible expansion of the grounds of comparison once a work of Palestinian literature like this one is read beyond its dialogue with Israeli culture.

Open Access
In: Journal of Arabic Literature
Free access
In: Journal of Arabic Literature
In: Journal of Arabic Literature

Abstract

This paper explores Fadwā Ṭūqān’s and Maḥmūd Darwīsh’s poetry written in the wake of the 1967 June War, the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982, and the Second Intifāḍah (uprising) in 2002. Specifically, the article investigates how the poets mobilize the Arabic elegiac (rithāʾ) genre, as well as pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetic traditions, in order to contemplate the future and foster a mode of proleptic mourning. This paper asserts that these two Palestinian poets utilize the longstanding elegiac form in Arabic literary heritage to not only summon and lament past events and atrocities, but to conjecture about the insecurity that they anticipate in the years to come. The poems render both hopeful and pessimistic sentiments and premonitions, demonstrating how the ongoing Israeli occupation and the Palestinians’ resultant losses over time have precipitated increasingly sobering and distressing speculations about the perpetuation of Palestinians’ grief in the future.

Open Access
In: Journal of Arabic Literature