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Nostalgia, Arab Nationalism, and The Andalusian Chronotope in the Evolution of the Modern Arabic Novel

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Abstract

The theme of "Al-Andalus" has featured prominently in the Arabic novel from the novel's earliest stages to its most recent diverse and complex maturation. This article examines the connections between the temporal and spatial signi fications of Al-Andalus and how they function within three Arabic novels, from the historical/romantic, social realist, and modernist genres. It argues that writing Al-Andalus entails more than nostalgia for a glorious past. These novelists take a critical view of contemporary society and rework Al-Andalus as a blueprint for a more hopeful future. That is, the historical consciousness of the "Andalusian" novel re flects on, explains, and critiques the current state of affairs in the Arab world. More generally, this study reiterates the homologous relationship between the political and intellectual trajectory of modern Arabic thought, and here the emphasis is on Arab Nationalism, and the development of the Arabic novel.

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... 42 In early 20th-century travelogues, al-Andalus provides a metaphorical refuge from the ills of the present, one marked by colonial oppression and societal decline. 43 However, for midcentury authors, the Andalusian heritage served not only as a remembrance of a past Arab golden age, but also as inspiration for renewal in the present. In this era, the political context of nationalism was more important as al-Andalus came to stand both as a chronotope of authenticity and as a foil against which to read the Arab present-one marked, as William Granara indicates, by "colonialism, racism, sexism, political and intellectual repression, religious intolerance and militancy, class stratification and economic inequities." ...
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This article explores the rhetorical function of al-Andalus (medieval Spain) in modern Syrian popular culture, with a focus on music. The rhetoric of al-Andalus in Syria is intimately related to the project of nation building. The nostalgic performance of links between modern Syria and medieval al-Andalus assumed great rhetorical force in the 1960s as a result of ideologies of pan-Arabism, the loss of Palestine, the rise of Islamist threats at home, and the emergence of petrodollar regimes in the Arabian Gulf. As a result, the rhetoric of al-Andalus became “good to think” for wide audiences of Syrians. Musical genres linked to al-Andalus play an important role as potent vehicles for constructing Syrian memory cultures. Drawing on heavily mythologized and nostalgic visions of an Andalusian golden age, musical performance in Syria sonically reinforces forms of nostalgic remembrance and enacts claims on Syrian pasts, presents, and futures.
... This image is also accompanied with an acknowledgement of the effect of what such a life of indulgence and competitiveness brought to the Kingdom as time passed and factions formed, until gradually there were no less than 12 different Emirates or Kingdom states in Andalucía. This internal conflict is often the main justification given for the fall of Grenada, hence the common reference to this period of Muslim history as a "moral lesson" with examples to follow and mischiefs to avoid(Granara 2005). Nori Gana explains how in the history of Arab consciousness, Al-Andalus reverberates like a melancholic wound, fissuring chiastically between narcissistic cultivation and elegiac vulnerability. ...
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Fictional representations of memory and traumatic experiences occupy a crucial space in contemporary literary studies. However, while empirical analysis of these two themes is flourishing beyond their traditional subjects and is enriched by studies examining narratives of memory and trauma in relation to post-colonial contexts (Craps, 2013; Ward, 2015), the theory continues to be euro-centric, revealing a substantial lack of awareness of cultural diversity. Moreover, critics argue against approaching memory as a standalone discipline (Gensburger, 2016) and go as far as anticipating its “soft landing” due to the current saturation with memory, suggesting changing the focus to the present and the future (Rosenfeld, 2009). Decolonial epistemology challenges mainstream trauma and memory studies, expanding their focus beyond Western contexts (Vissar, 2015). This research contributes to the endeavour of decolonizing trauma and memory studies, through an in-depth analysis of four novels by the Egyptian writer Radwa Ashour (1964-2014): Granada (2003, orig. Arabic, Thulatheyyat Gheranata, 1998), The Woman from Tantoura (2014, orig. Arabic, Al-Tantoureyah 2010), Blue Lorries (2014, orig. Arabic, Faraj, 2008) and Specters (2010, orig. Arabic, Atyaf, 1999). My analysis addresses three main questions: 1) Why is it still important to study cultural memory and investigate traumatic histories despite the criticism and calls to move beyond these concepts? 2) What alternative approaches to canonical trauma theory and Western theories of memory are possible when interpreting literary works? 3) Can traumatic experiences and memories of suffering be viewed as positive forces for self-preservation and resilience and help overcome the pathological stigma? To answer these questions, I rely on critical historiography studies (Nora, 1989; Assmann, 2008), psychoanalytical theory (Abraham and Torok, 1994), social theory (Foucault, 1977; Alexander, 2013) and cultural studies (Said, 1984; Spivak, 1988), and I contribute to the scholarship in the fields of memory and trauma studies by proposing “Circles of Memory” as an alternative approach to understanding memory in postcolonial contexts. In this model I build on Assmann’s concept of transnational memory and Erll’s concept of traveling memory to suggest a visualization of memory that is dynamic and interactive, traveling through temporal and special spheres, affected by representation and reception. I also suggest that traumatic experiences can be integrated into individual and collective identities to achieve self-affirmation and promote solidarity among people with traumatic histories. In the field of literary studies, this study contributes to positioning Radwa Ashour’s major works in the broader field of trauma narratives and representations of memory, a space where Arab literary experiences are often neglected, and it shows that shifting the field of observation can produce innovative theories.
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Arab nationalism has been one of the dominant ideologies in the Middle East and North Africa since the early twentieth century. However, a clear definition of Arab nationalism, even as a subject of scholarly inquiry, does not yet exist. Arab Nationalism sheds light on cultural expressions of Arab nationalism and the sometimes contradictory meanings attached to it in the process of identity formation in the modern world. It presents nationalism as an experienceable set of identity markers - in stories, visual culture, narratives of memory, and struggles with ideology, sometimes in culturally sophisticated forms, sometimes in utterly vulgar forms of expression. Drawing upon various case studies, the book transcends a conventional history that reduces nationalism in the Arab lands to a pattern of political rise and decline. It offers a glimpse at ways in which Arabs have constructed an identifiable shared national culture, and it critically dissects conceptions about Arab nationalism as an easily graspable secular and authoritarian ideology modeled on Western ideas and visions of modernity. This book offers an entirely new portrayal of nationalism and a crucial update to the field, and as such, is indispensable reading for students, scholars and policymakers looking to gain a deeper understanding of nationalism in the Arab world.
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Every writer is, of course, a reader of her or his predecessors as well, but what I want to underline is that the often surprising dynamics of human history . . . dramatize the latencies in a prior figure or form that suddenly illuminate the present. The Moor, no longer European or even part of Europe, passed through history, then passed out of history, leaving only traces in the fictions and myths as a negative exemplary figure of what not to be. Ergo, Othello. 1492 marks both a point of rupture and a point of departure, a rupture with the Moorish Andalusian presence in the Iberian Peninsula and a departure to the New World, which was "new" only in the sense that it had yet to be known—encountered, not discovered. Christopher Columbus's sail to the Americas followed shortly after the crusading armies of King Ferdinand (Aragon) and Queen Isabella (Castile), cemented by their royal marriage, re-conquered Granada, the last independent Moorish city-state whose survival for more than two and a half centuries (as subordinate to the Kingdom of Castile according to the 1246 treaty of Jaén) had squarely depended on the unabated resurgences of hostilities between the surrounding Christian powers, which the successive statesmen of Granada exploited skillfully, treading the delicate line between diplomacy and deterrence, to defer an otherwise ineluctable demise.1 The convergence between the recapture of Granada and the departure to the New World was not, it bears emphasizing, incidental, much less accidental. Columbus's departure to the Americas would not have occurred were it not for the booty plundered from Moorish Granada. More importantly, it became patently clear that Arab sailors' transatlantic navigational knowledge and devices such as the astrolabe were crucial to Columbus's successive voyages. No wonder, then, that a number of Moors and Mudejars (Muslims living under Christian rule), and perhaps even former Mozarabs (Arabic-speaking Christians living under Muslim rule), and later Moriscos (Muslims converted to Christianity) were among the first diasporic ethnicities to set foot in the New World. Many of them were taken as sailors and translators on the assumption that the natives of the Americas spoke Arabic, which, ironically as it might be, bears indirect witness to the oftentimes downplayed navigational élan of the Moors of Al-Andalus.2 It is no exaggeration to suggest at the outset that the post-9/11 political invention (i.e., assignation and cultivation) of an Arab American ethnicity/ identity must be interrogated against the backdrop of this historical longevity whose roots shimmer in the recesses of 1492—this exquisite overlap, as it were, between the Reconquista of Spain and the Conquista of the Americas. This is all the more so apparent, given that the Moors, Berbers, or Muslims of North Africa writ large were also among the first slaves captured, sold out of Spain to Portugal, and then shipped to the New World colonies via Lisbon in late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, a time when the merciless expulsion of Jews, Arabs, and Muslims from their homes in Al-Andalus was well underway. Much is yet to be known about how the Moors have been written out of Spanish history post-1492 (let alone that of post-1609, when they were summarily expelled out of Spain under the auspices of an expanding Inquisition) and displaced, at least in part, in the New World—only to be in turn narrated out of American history (or, perhaps, hammered into it beyond recognition) until they are accidentally "discovered" and frantically "targeted" in the post-9/11 climate of fearmongering, ethnic profiling, and the war on terror, all of which imperiled, perhaps for decades to come, civil liberties, constitutional rights, and the credibility of international law. In a masterful analysis, Velocities of Zero, Marwan Hassan, the Arab Canadian novelist and dialectical socialist, discusses the demographic distortions that the Reconquista had resulted in, and which intensified during the scramble for the Americas and the internationalization of the slave trade. There is little to no recorded evidence of Moorish and Muslim presence in the Americas during and following the Age of Discovery beyond what is exemplified by speculations about the...
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The present article proposes that we turn our attention to al-Ghassānī’s (d. 1707) Riḥlat al-wazīr fī iftikāki al-asīr (The Journey of the Minister to Ransom the Captive) to trace some of the most original and thought-provoking literary and cultural manifestations of nostalgic/elegiac depictions of al-Andalus in Arabic-Islamic writing in the post-Reconquista era. Riḥlat al-wazīr fī iftikāki al-asīr, the article argues, abounds with tropes and motifs typical of neoclassical and modern Arabic Andalusiyyāt. This is especially true of the section that records the author's physical encounter with al-Andalus. Finally, the essay makes the case for additional scholarly exploration of the themes of memory, loss, and nostalgia in other early modern Moroccan Voyages en Espagne.
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Utenzi wa Siri li Asrari ulitungwa katika karne ya 17 na mpaka sasa haujashughulikiwa ipasavyo. Ni utenzi unaozungumzia, kiubunifu, mojawapo ya vita vya Mtume Muhammad alivyopigana na wasioamini Uislamu. Mbali na hayo, ni utenzi unaokazania waumini kumuomba Mungu katika matatizo yao kupitia majina Yake matukufu. Mwitifaki mkuu wa nadharia ya Usemezano, Mwanaisimu Mikhail Bakhtin, haoni kama ushairi una usemezano au undimi, hali ya kuwa na aina za lugha katika uwasilishaji wake. Kimtazamo wake lugha ya kishairi ni ya uzungumzi nafsia, imefungika, haibadiliki na haikubali aina nyingine za lugha kujumuika ndani yake. Zaidi, inafanana na lugha ya kidini ambayo ni ya kiimla, kitaasubi na haikosoleki au kupingwa. Utafiti huu ulijikita kugeuza msimamo huu wa lugha ya kishairi pamoja na lugha ya kidini katika kutoa maana. Ili kufikia lengo letu tulitumia madhumuni matatu: kuufafanua utenzi huu katika muktadha wa kisufi; kubainisha ufungamanisho wa ainati za lugha zilizomo ndani ya utenzi; na kujadili lugha ya kidini kuwa kipengele cha undimi. Ukusanyaji wa data ulifanywa kwa kuzingatia msamiati, mbinu za uwasilishaji wa msamiati huo, masimulizi yaliyomo ndani ya utenzi, na maingiliano ya aina hizi za lugha. Kimsingi, utafiti wetu ulikuwa wa kimaelezo ya matini ya utenzi huu. Hata hivyo, mahojiano yalifanywa kwa kuchagua sampuli stahiki ambayo ilikuwa na uzoefu mkubwa wa kilugha na kiutaalamu kuhusu maswala ya kishairi, kidini na kitamaduni yaliyotajwa katika utenzi huu. Uchanganuzi wetu ulitudhihirishia ainati za lugha za kitaalamu, kishajara, kimahsusi, kifasihi, kikawaida, na kidini. Ainati hizo za lugha zinaweka wazi maana za maneno katika uwasilishwaji wake katika muktadha wa kilugha na kitamaduni. Tunahitimisha kwamba ushairi unazo sifa za matumizi ya ainati ya lugha na pia lugha ya kidini, aliyoipinga Bakhtin, ina jukumu katika kufikiliza ujumbe na maana timilifu kupatikana. Kwetu sisi ufafanuzi wa utenzi huu una natija si kwa wasomaji wa mashairi na fasihi yote ya Kiswahili kwa jumla bali pia umeishajiisha nadharia ya Usemezano kwa kuangaziwa ushairi na lugha ya kidini.
Book
This Element brings together the history of emotions and temporalities, offering a new perspective on both. Time was often imagined as a movement from the past to the future: the past is gone and the future not yet here. Only present-day subjects could establish relations to other times, recovering history as well as imagining and anticipating the future. In a movement paralleling the emphasis on the porous self, constituted by emotions situated not inside but between subjects, this Element argues for a porous present, which is open to the intervention of ghosts coming from the past and from the future. What needs investigating is the flow between times as much as the creation of boundaries between them, which first banishes the ghosts and then denies their existence. Emotions are the most important way through which subjects situate and understand themselves in time.
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The place that al-Andalus occupies in contemporary popular and academic discourses is characterized by an ill-defined but heartfelt nostalgia. This essay returns to the historical texts written during and immediately following the Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula in order to elucidate the conceptual place al-Andalus occupied in them. these narratives convey little in the way of nostalgia and frame al-Andalus instead as a place of wonders, jihād and eschatological events. This essay concludes with a brief consideration of when the understanding of al-Andalus as a "lost paradise" emerged and how this understanding may now itself be changing.
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