World Literature

Autobiographical Identities in Contemporary Arab Culture by Valerie Anishchenkova

By Valerie Anishchenkova

This unique exploration of Arab autobiographical discourse investigates a variety of modes of cultural id that have emerged in Arab societies within the final forty years. in this interval, autobiographical texts moved clear of exemplary lifestyles narratives and towards extra unorthodox innovations comparable to erotic memoir writing, postmodernist self-fragmentation, cinematographic self-projection and running a blog. Valerie Anishchenkova argues that the Arabic autobiographical style has advanced right into a cellular, unrestricted class arming authors with narrative instruments to articulate their selfhood.

Reading works from Arab international locations resembling Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Syria and Lebanon, Anishchenkova connects the century's quick political and ideological advancements to expanding autobiographical experimentation in Arabic works. The substantial scope of her examine additionally forces attention of movie and on-line different types of self-representation and builds a brand new theoretical framework for those modes of autobiographical cultural construction.

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When I made the self-portrait I was mentally not yet in New York and existing in the isolation of my own studio. I did it aware of my most recent artwork and wanting the challenge of doing it in that same formal manner. I was really hesitant and full of doubt about it and was not sure if I should tear it up or send it. Eventually, out of the fatigue of everything, I decided to just do some final bold gestures and just send it no matter how doubtful I felt. I am now glad that I did it. It seems to tell people just what I experienced there with the ancient olive trees about which I began to feel very sisterly, as though they were accepting me into an ancient collective of those who have seen tragedy and joy.

One well-known example of orientalist attitudes toward non-Western literatures and cultures could be found in George Gusdorf’s article “Conditions and Limits of Autobiography,” where he famously claimed: It would seem that autobiography is not to be found outside of our cultural area; one would say that it expresses a concern peculiar to Western man, a concern that has been of good use in his systematic conquest of the universe and that he has communicated to men of other cultures. (Gusdorf 1980: 29) Gusdorf further suggests that even if some autobiographical works are found in non-Western cultures, these appeared directly under European influence.

Among Arab critics who hold to this view are Zakariya Ibrahim (Ibrahim 1967) and Ali Adham (Adham 1978). 17. My translation.  . This scrutiny was like a blade turned in the wound, and orientated the Arab people towards a revolution lying beyond the national liberation” (Abdel-Malek 1983: 21). 1 Autobiography and Nation-Building: Constructing Personal Identity in the Postcolonial World 1 Nationalizing the Autobiographical Subject I n 1993 – almost a decade before the events of September 11, 2001 triggered a global crisis of Arab identity, and two decades before the Arab Spring – Martin Kramer wrote in his article “Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Identity”: Three lines of poetry plot the trajectory of Arab national consciousness.

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