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Tunisia has often been commended for its progressive stance on women’s rights and viewed as a role model for family law reform in the Muslim world. Judging Women’s Rights, Gender & Citizenship in Ben Ali's Tunisia weaves together intimate stories and theory to demystify claims that the progressive laws supported gender equality in practice. Through the eyes of citizens and legal professionals, it reveals how women and men experienced their rights under Ben Ali’s repressive regime, tracing connections between gender, ethics and the law. This accessibly written book provides a vital backdrop for understanding contemporary debates in Tunisia where women’s rights remain a hotly contested topic.
Speaking Kurdish in a Warped World
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In Endurance , Alex Pillen portrays a sense of being unique within Kurdish cultural spheres. How to feel unique despite devastating violence, cultural oppression and assimilation is a question faced by many communities globally. Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji) is a focal point for such uniqueness.
When a culture is under siege and many have lost a former way of life it may not be clear how a society looks itself in the mirror, finds its reflection. Alex Pillen’s portrayal of Speaking Kurdish in a Warped World locates such lines of reflection within everyday language. The fear of a random geopolitical pair of dice is global, a fear to be honed when reading this account of uniqueness in the face of totalising loss

Abstract

This article investigates humorous representations of marriage in digital comics, stand-up comedy and short films created by Emirati artists and content creators who primarily rely on social media as their most effective form of distribution. Studied against theories of humor in the Western and the Arabic traditions, selected examples demonstrate that the story-based genre appears less light-hearted in its combination of comic with tragic plot turns, while the snapshot characteristic of graphic art allows comics and social media skits to focus on the joke. The latter is thus more appealing to larger audiences, especially via electronic media. Depending on whether the image is accompanied by text in either Arabic or English, the content targets specific viewer groups. Relying on content analysis and audience reception, this study demonstrates that the relief regarding marital dilemmas provided through humor, particularly satire, is greater in the less text-based presentations. Generally, humor is a preferred mode by artists and content creators in the UAE to represent marriage because it can take the edge off sensitive topics.

Open Access
In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

Abstract

In 1946, one year after the atomic bombings of Japan, Palestinian thinker ʿAli Rashid Shaʿath (1908–1967) published a book entitled Min al-binsilin ila al-qunbula al-zarriya (From Penicillin to the Atomic Bomb). An accessible work of popular science, it contains highly optimistic reflections on the future and predicts the following two events as a result of nuclear technology and energy: a workers’ utopia and world peace. This article situates Shaʿath’s voice within a global conversation about the atomic age, which led to new forms of futuristic and utopian thinking. Analyzing broader Arab articulations of the future through Shaʿath’s writing, we critically engage his embrace of atomic technology as a mode of emancipation.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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Abstract

One of the ways this political dream of the recent Arab Revolutions had been re-actualized is through building archives. In countries where political regimes had sought to deprive citizens of their futures by concealing traces of their past, archiving might be understood as a revolutionary gesture. This article studies archival projects born in the Arab region during the 2000s. It interprets the gesture of archiving as a way of caring for the future, and it interrogates its relation to art and aesthetics. How do aesthetics and art contribute to the gesture? What is the relationship between art and activism nurtured in these archival processes? The research is based on interviews with independent archivers who were and still are involved in the documentation of recent revolts and revolutions in the region, and it focuses on three projects: ‘Archives des luttes des femmes en Algérie’, initiated by young feminists and scholars Awel Haouati and Saadia Gacem during the Algerian Hirak (movement) of 2019–2020; the ‘Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution’, founded by Sana Yazigi to collect and share the creativity of the Syrian revolution that started in 2011; the archive of the Lebanese ‘Committee of Families of the Disappeared and Kidnapped’, collected and created by Wadad Halwani since 1982, and later restored and curated by her son Ghassan Halwani since 2006.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

Abstract

For a generation of Arab leftist intellectuals active during the interwar years, particularly during World War Two, the Soviet Union represented a ‘miraculous’ case of modernization, a success story of a country that managed to rapidly modernize and even exceed the levels of progress and sophistication of Western nations. Its trajectory since 1917 represented a model for progress achieved through socialism and internationalism. Standing firmly against Western colonialism and steadily against the Nazi war machine, the Soviet Union became the model for a modern Arab future. The Soviet Union as ‘future’ was not only a temporal construct as much as it was a spatial framework through which Arab intellectuals shifted modernization discourses of the Nahda from West-East dimensions to East-East imaginaries.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Free access
In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Free access
In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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Abstract

This essay discusses the speculative turn in recent Arab literature and arts by focusing on the comics genre. It first attempts to outline the genealogies and ramifications of a growing canon of graphic narratives—qiṣaṣ muṣawwara as they are known in Arabic—concerned with the speculative element as a lens or tool to deal with socio-political aspects. Moreover, it focuses on the analysis of selected works by the Lebanese comic artist Barrack Rima in order to examine the ways in which speculative fiction figures the city of Beirut as the central nexus of dystopias, thereby responding to present anxieties and providing realms for projecting future visions. Paying particular attention to recurrent key tropes in Rima’s multi-layered and multi-temporal dystopic narratives as well as aesthetic and literary strategies, the genre’s potential suitability to engage with speculative futurity is explored.

Open Access
In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication