shadow

Narratives of Diaspora and Exile in Arabic and Palestinian Poetry

Saddik M. Gohar, United Arab Emirates University

Download PDF Version

Abstract

This paper underlines the attitudes of Palestinian / Arab poets toward the issues of exile and identity integral to their traumatic experience of Diaspora and displacement. From a historical context  and within the parameters of colonial / postcolonial theory , the paper  advocates a new critical perspective exploring the dialectics of exile and identity in Palestinian / Arabic poetry in order to argue that  exile , in contemporary world literature ,  becomes  a signifier  not only  of living  outside  one’s homeland but also of  the  condition caused by such physical absence. Aiming to reach a state of reconciliation rather than conflict, the poetic voices, analyzed in the paper, reflect a sense of nostalgia and emotional attachment toward their homeland. The paper  argues that Palestine, for  the Palestinian poets, is not  a paradise or an idealistic utopia that only exists in  their  poetry and  imagination but  a geographical reality caught up in national and religious limbos  and rooted in the trajectories of colonial history and diabolical  power  politics.

What is Performance Studies?

Richard Schechner, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

 Download PDF Version

Because performance studies is so broad-ranging and open to new possibilities, no one can actually grasp its totality or press all its vastness and variety into a single writing book. My points of departure are my own teaching, research, artistic practice, and life experiences.

Performances are actions. As a discipline, performance studies takes actions very seriously in four ways. First, behavior is the “object of study” of performance studies. Although performance studies scholars use the “archive” extensively – what’s in books, photographs, the archaeological record, historical remains, etc. – their dedicated focus is on the “repertory,” namely, what people do in the activity of their doing it. Second, artistic practice is a big part of the performance studies project. A number of performance studies scholars are also practicing artists working in the avant-garde, in community-based performance, and elsewhere; others have mastered a variety of non-Western and Western traditional forms. The relationship between studying performance and doing performance is integral. Third, fieldwork as “participant observation” is a much-prized method adapted from anthropology and put to new uses. In anthropological fieldwork, participant observation is a way of learning about cultures other than that of the field-worker. In anthropology, for the most part, the “home culture” is Western, the “other” non-Western. But in performance studies, the “other” may be a part of one’s own culture (non-Western or Western), or even an aspect of one’s own behavior. That positions the performance studies fieldworker at a Brechtian distance, allowing for criticism, irony, and personal commentary as well as sympathetic participation. In this active way, one performs fieldwork. Taking a critical distance from the objects of study and self invites revision, the recognition that social circumstances– including knowledge itself – are not fixed, but subject to the “rehearsal process” of testing and revising. Fourth, it follows that performance studies is actively involved in social practices and advocacies. Many who practice performance studies do not aspire to ideological neutrality. In fact, a basic theoretical claim is that no approach or position is “neutral”. There is no such thing as unbiased. The challenge is to become as aware as possible of one’s own stances in relation to the positions of others – and then take steps to maintain or change positions.

Revolutionary Roads: Violence versus Non-violence: A comparative study of The Battle of Algiers (1966) and Gandhi (1982)

Vikash Kumar

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi India

Considered one of the finest realist films ever which reconstitutes perfectly the revolution by the people of Algeria, The Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo Gillo, La Bataille d’Alger, Igor Film/ Casbah Films, Italy, 1966) presents us an image of a world of anger and agony. The making of The Battle of Algiers possibly heralded the birth of Algerian cinema as it was the first film made just after their independence. In fact, this cinematographic masterpiece reveals to its viewers a plethora of images depicting the Algerian people in their quest for independence. Made in the year 1966, by Gillo Pontecorvo and based on the personal experiences of Yacef Saddi, Military Head of the FLN (Front de liberation National/ National Liberation Front) who also collaborated on the script of the film, The Battle of Algiers, interestingly, was directed with the aim to highlight the invisible aspects and unheard voices of this violent revolution by the people of Algeria as well as the counter measures taken by the colonial power to suppress the movement.

Mary Magdalene or Virgin Mary: Nationalism and the Concept of Woman in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power

Sayyed Rahim Moosavinia, Seyyede Maryam Hosseini & Shahid Chamran

University of Ahvaz, Iran

Download PDF Version

Abstract

Foucault believes that people live in systems of power different from one era to another. He applies the term “power archives” to demonstrate that those inside an institute cannot be aware of the subtle ways of power imposed on them. Likewise, it would be oversimplification to think that with the apparent end of colonialism, the colonized subjects will be free from subjugating contexts. In the case of women, the situation is even worse since they are repressed by both the colonialist and the post-colonial nationalist. “Under the anxiety of the influence” of the former colonial father, the once-belittled colonial men turn to support their females in terms of their body and soul, and in this way define them inside a strictly demarcated roles of good wives, mothers, and households or vicious prostitutes. Bessie Head in her semi-autobiographical masterpiece subtly examines this idea and through her coloured protagonist, Elizabeth, attempts to re-deconstruct this notion.

Biafra and the Aesthetics of Closure in the Third Generation Nigerian Novel

Madhu Krishnan, the University of Nottingham, UK

 Download PDF Version

 Abstract

This paper examines the role of closure, or the lack thereof, in four contemporary Nigerian novels. Representative of the third wave of Nigerian literature, these narratives each deals with themes of trauma, identity and community affiliation in postcolonial Africa, highlighting the fractured and displaced nation-state as the site of a radical aporia between individual fulfillment and communal harmony. This article postulates that the lack of closure on the level of thematic content and characterization in these novels is an aesthetic condition of third generation Nigerian literature as it strives to narrativize the openness and undecidability of the postcolonial condition and the fundamental instability of history and identity-formation in contemporary Africa.

Perspective: Exile Literature and the Diasporic Indian Writer

Amit Shankar Saha, Calcutta University, West Bengal, India

Abstract
The essay takes a holistic view of the word “exile” to encompass a range of displaced existence. It illustrates through John Simpson’s The Oxford Book of Exile the various forms of exiles. The essay then goes on to show that diasporic Indian writing is in some sense also a part of exile literature. By exemplifying writers both from the old Indian diaspora of indentured labourers and the modern Indian diaspora of IT technocrats, it shows that despite peculiarities there is an inherent exilic state in all dislocated lives whether it be voluntary or involuntary migration. More importantly, a broad survey of the contributions of the second generation of the modern Indian diaspora in the field of Indian writing in English depict certain shift in concerns in comparison to the previous generation and thereby it widens the field of exile literature.

The Utopian Quest in Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather and Maru

Adamu Pangmeshi, University of Maroua

Abstract

Prior to Nelson Mandela’s ascension to power in South Africa, literature of the country had been essentially a protest against the dehumanizing treatment that was meted on the Blacks by the minority Whites who were at the helm of power through the policy of apartheid. This somehow created socio-political upheavals and a pervasive atmosphere. Consequently, some writers while unfolding this social enigma, did so with a vision of proposing an ideal society for humanity. One of them is Bessie Head. This paper seeks to examine Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather and Maru in a bid to demonstrate that her quest for a perfect society has been provoked by her experiences in life and the dystopian South African. Informed by new historicism, it is argued that an ideal or a perfect society is a figment of the imagination.

Translate »