Middle East - Topics & Arguments 2018-11-27T12:31:45+01:00 Alena Strohmaier (Managing Editor) Open Journal Systems <p><strong>META</strong>'s geographical focus is the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). The journal is concerned with the states of Northern Africa and West Asia.</p> Trauma: Social Realities and Cultural Texts 2018-11-27T12:31:45+01:00 Stephan Milich Lamia Moghnieh <p>This special issue aims to contribute to a deeper and critical understanding of trauma in the societies, cultures, and histories of the Middle East and North Africa. The collection of essays brings together perspectives from the social sciences, humanities and literary studies, not least by exploring the narrativization of suffering, its performative and its non-verbal expression both in social reality and cultural production. In presenting explorations of literary texts, theatre, social realities and theoretical reflection, we hope to contribute to a more comprehensive, nuanced and inclusive view on trauma and memory production both as a cultural and social materiality and as a political formation. The diverse array of different approaches, topics, and disciplines expresses our concern to include and map the diversity and multiplicity of current trauma studies research related to the MENA.</p> 2018-11-13T12:13:55+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Researching Trauma: Some Methodological Considerations for the Humanities 2018-11-26T12:07:40+01:00 Norman Saadi Nikro <p>Since at least the mid-1990s trauma has come to form a more staple theme of research in the humanities, across and between the fields of history, literature, anthropology, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, memory studies, and of course psychoanalysis. More recently, there has been a concerted effort to “decolonize” trauma studies, outlining how the variegated field remains subservient to European and North American teleological and epistemological repertoires. And while accompanying critiques of trauma studies as a discourse—as an institutionally located reproductive mechanism of power and knowledge maintaining relational conduits of subject and object formations—have served to draw attention to the constitutive implications of research paradigms, this has taken place almost exclusively within the bounds of theory.</p> <p>In this essay, I take as my point of departure the idea that in the humanities there has been an excessive amount of trauma theory, all the while neglecting to develop discussions around methodology. In proposing a consideration of methodology, I want to shift the debate from its overdetermined theoretical concerns to the more worldly, fleshy, and physical contours of&nbsp; a materialist phenomenology focusing on modalities of encountering, inhabiting, and embodying specific livelihoods— livelihoods of people, of places, of things, of objects—including research subjects and research materials themselves. While discussing these themes I draw on some of my encounters with subjects of my research in Lebanon.</p> 2018-11-13T12:39:13+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## "It's a power, not a disease": Syrian Youth Respond to Human Devastation Syndrome 2018-11-14T12:08:34+01:00 Tory Brykalski Diana Rayes <p>While it is well acknowledged that the effects of war and exile are devastating for Syrian youth, there has been less focus on how they interpret their experience of war and displacement. Integrating anthropological and global health perspectives, we invite two Syrian youth, Karim and Khadijah, to speak to larger theoretical questions about humanitarianism. We describe the creation of a new diagnostic term, “Human Devastation Syndrome” (HDS) by the Syrian American Medical Society. Used describe the effects of war and displacement on Syrian youth, HDS provides a lens through which Karim and Khadija introduce their own theories of devastation.</p> 2018-11-13T12:33:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Beyond Trauma, What Kept them Going? An Analysis of the Lives and Narratives of Five Syrian Women in Lebanon 2018-11-26T12:41:56+01:00 Kholoud Saber Barakat Pierre Philippot <p>Using interpretive phenomenological analysis, this paper analyzes the narratives of five women who fled from Syria to Lebanon, with the objective of understanding how they continue to lead their lives beyond trauma. Results showed that these women’s ability to create meaning of their traumatic experiences and link it to their current lives is a determining factor in understanding their ability to move on. Finding a reason to keep going, creating a way to cope with loss, and perceiving an evolving sense of agency were significant aspects of getting over the traumatic event or enduring pain. Finally, changes in gender roles were identified by all five women, but their evaluation of these changes differed.</p> 2018-11-13T12:33:50+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## No More “Eloquent Silence”: Narratives of Occupation, Civil War, and Intifada Write Everyday Violence and Challenge Trauma Theory 2018-11-26T12:49:01+01:00 Nora Parr <p>Discourse on trauma has re-emerged in an era where media and mobility bring it to global doorsteps. Frameworks for understanding trauma remain dictated by thinking that emerged from Europe’s “great wars” and American deployment to Vietnam. This framework—which sees trauma and the terrible as “out of time” or “other” to a perceived normal daily experience—has formed what critics call the “empire of trauma.” This empire limits how war, violence, and the terrible can be talked about and understood as part of (or not part of) contemporary life. Looking at two trauma narratives, <em>Taḥta shams al-ḍuḥā</em> (2004) by Ibrahim Nasrallah and <em>Bāʾ mithl Baīt... mthl Baīrūt</em> (1997; Trans <em>B as in Beirut</em>, 2008) by Iman Humaydan, the paper gives short readings that disrupt what has emerged as a binary of trauma theory. It shows how repetition and open endings turn everyday/trauma into everyday trauma, then goes on to explore how the novels develop language and generic structures so that they hold—rather than silence—tellings of the terrible.</p> 2018-11-13T12:37:36+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Trauma in the Novels of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti Writer, IsmāꜤīl Fahd IsmāꜤīl 2018-11-26T12:54:47+01:00 O. Ishaq Tijani <p>A prolific Iraqi-Kuwaiti writer, Ismaʿil Fahd Ismaʿil (1940-) has published over thirty novels among other literary works. Though a less-studied Arabic novelist, his writings are comparable—in terms of quantity, genre, length, technique, and subject matter—to those of the Egyptians Najib Mahfuz and Tawfiq al-Hakim. This article argues that trauma is reflected not just in Ismaʿil’s fiction, but also in his own conflicted persona, his identity as an Iraqi-Kuwaiti writer. The article reads <em>al-Ḥabl</em>, in particular, as an autobiographical novel that portrays Ismaʿil’s personal experiences of trauma in 1960s Iraq.</p> 2018-11-13T12:35:45+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## (Re-)Enacting Stories of Trauma: Playback Theatre as a Tool of Cultural Resistance in Palestine 2018-11-26T12:53:41+01:00 Anne Rohrbach <p>Playback Theatre opens up an artistic and interactive space for silenced voices and counter-narratives. It helps to address potentially traumatic experiences of (political) violence and oppression. The article discusses the resilient power of Playback Theatre in Palestine and gives insight into the strategies of an oppressed population to define their own sense of self through stories that acknowledge the variety and dignity of their lives.</p> 2018-11-13T12:32:04+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Injustice Turned Inward? Continuous Traumatic Stress and Social Polarization in Egypt 2018-11-26T12:57:10+01:00 Vivienne Matthies-Boon <p>Based on 40 life-story testimonies with young Cairene activists, this article argues that post-revolutionary Egypt was marked by Continuous Traumatic Stress (CTS). CTS is a phenomenological term that accounts for the structurally traumatic nature of political repression. It emphasizes the continuing temporality of such pervasive traumatizaton and the structural political stressors that underpin it. CTS thus entails a specifically <em>political</em> conception of trauma, according to which traumatic stress is in fact constituted by a violent, corrupt, unaccountable <em>political and judicial system</em>. This article argues that the traumatic experiences of activists in pre-and post-revolutionary Egypt are best perceived through the lens of CTS. It also insists that such traumatic stress—particularly the lack of justice and formal recourse—provided a fertile breeding ground for revenge and social polarization, which was directly incited by counter-revolutionary actors (such as the military and Muslim Brotherhood leadership), thereby sadly further contributing to the (seemingly endless) continuous cycle of continued traumatic stress.</p> 2018-11-13T12:31:14+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Towards a New Master Narrative of Trauma: A Reading of Terrance Hayes’ “American Sonnet for my Past and Future Assassin” and Mostafa Ibrahim’s “I Have Seen Today” 2018-11-14T12:08:30+01:00 Sahar Elmougy <p>The Egyptian revolutionaries, who in 2011 called for “bread, freedom and social justice,” witnessed the shattering of their dream and suffered the pain of being abandoned by the masses and silenced by the post-revolution regime in Egypt. The aim of this article is to explore indications of the creation of a “cultural trauma” (Alexander, “Towards”) for the Egyptian revolutionaries through a reading of Mustafa Ibrahim’s poem “I Have Seen Today.” In order to accomplish this task, this paper will first examine how the cultural trauma of African Americans (Eyerman, <em>Slavery</em>) responds to fresh triggers. In Terrance Hayes’s “American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin,” the election of Donald Trump as US president is the trigger to the older trauma. Comparing Ibrahim’s poem to Hayes’s aims at underlining the tools used by the Egyptian revolutionaries to create “a new master narrative” of trauma (Alexander, “Towards” 12) that could reconstruct the collective identity and redirect the course of political action.</p> 2018-11-13T12:39:56+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Therapeutic History and the Enduring Memories of Violence in Algeria and Morocco 2018-11-26T13:03:53+01:00 Idriss Jebari <p>This article examines the experience of transitional justice and its relation to collective memory of authoritarian repression in Morocco (1965-1992) and the Civil War in Algeria (1991-2002). It confronts and compares to the two states’ therapeutic historical discourse produced to heal the national community after these periods of violence and its impact on the countries’ historians, journalists, filmmakers, and novelists from 2004 to 2017. The article argues that Algeria and Morocco’s rigorous definition of the “victim” during these two episodes (the imprisoned and disappeared) excluded the way communities suffered during this period and, as a result, has delayed healing, forgiveness, and national reconciliation. This article highlights the limits of two overpoliticized processes of transitional justice in the Maghreb and their limited conception of what it meant to “come to terms with the past.” However, it finds optimism in the ongoing efforts by new historiography and cultural actors to confront the lasting traumatic aftermaths outside of official definitions and on their own terms.</p> 2018-11-13T12:30:27+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Theorizing Intergenerational Trauma in Tazmamart Testimonial Literature and Docu-testimonies 2018-11-14T12:08:32+01:00 Brahim El Guabli <p>Drawing on testimonial writings by the wives of Tazmamart prisoners and two documentary films (docu-testimonies) about this notorious disappearance camp, I argue that Tazmamart-induced traumas are intergenerational. Approached as a continuum, Tazmamart-induced traumas reveal the intergenerational transference of trauma from mothers to children in the pre-discursive period. In this article, I specifically focus my analysis on the pre-discursive period—a time when families did not articulate their traumas in spoken words in the presence of the children and during which Tazmamart was not a matter of public discourse in Morocco. This theorization of intergenerational transference of traumatic experiences will shift scholarly attention from individual experiences to the collective memory of the “Years of Lead” in its intergenerational dimensions.</p> 2018-11-13T12:36:45+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Ruptures and Their Afterlife: A Cultural Critique of Trauma 2018-11-26T13:10:01+01:00 Orkideh Behrouzan <p>This paper provides a cultural critique of the concept of trauma by examining the generational narratives of <em>toromā</em> in the Iranian context and the psychologization of memory in the aftermath of the 1980s. It examines memory-work as a cultural and political resource for witnessing and historicizing the otherwise muted discourse of the Iran-Iraq War and the anomie of the 1980s Iran. The paper elaborates on the concept of rupture, as an alternative to trauma, for its recognition of the complexity, multiplicity, and diffusion of historical conditions and their afterlife. These narratives of rupture show how generations are constructed and negotiated, not temporally, but based on the political and emotional stakes of <em>how</em>, and <em>what</em>, one remembers, thereby informing the identity politics of young Iranians and generating new socialities and cultural forms. The paper approaches the psychological afterlife of social anomie as both a clinical and a cultural/political experience and raises questions about the ethics of engagement with the two constructed concepts of “mental health” and the “Middle East.”</p> 2018-11-13T12:34:52+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Basma Abdelaziz - A Portrait 2018-11-26T13:13:40+01:00 Sam Nader <p>I saw Basma Abdelaziz for the first time on March 15th, 2018. She was discussing her book <em>Huna badan</em> (Abdelaziz). Since that day, over a period of four months, I have read five of her books. I have also started following her Facebook page and reading her weekly newspaper column. Each one of her works added to my knowledge about a certain subject, made me think about an issue from a different point of view, or made me feel the pain of a certain group of people. I hope that by drawing this portrait of her, I may introduce her to new readers who may benefit from her writings as I did. Aside from this personal reason that may seem quite subjective, many objective reasons make me want to present her work in this portrait.</p> 2018-11-13T12:18:01+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## No Such Thing as Society? A Critique of Hegemonic Notions of Trauma in the Research on Cultural Production 2018-11-14T12:08:31+01:00 Felix Lang <p>The notion of trauma is widely used in contemporary research on literature, film, music, and other forms of cultural production in the Arab world. Building on a tradition of trauma studies in the humanities, much of this work is predicated on an essentialist, naturalized notion of trauma as developed in the seminal work of the literary scholar Cathy Caruth, among others. In this article I suggest that such a notion of trauma is problematic as it depoliticizes human suffering and marginalizes non-hegemonic ways of dealing with experiences of violence. In order to address these problems, I propose to turn to social constructivist approaches to trauma.</p> 2018-11-13T12:38:26+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Towards a Critical Trauma Studies: A Response to Felix Lang 2018-11-14T12:08:36+01:00 Vivienne Matthies-Boon <p>In this response, I agree with Felix Lang about the need to problematize trauma studies’ prevalent underlying assumptions. However, I suggest that we should go a step further, namely towards a phenomenological account of trauma rooted in Frankfurt School critical theory. Such an approach enables us to pay attention to the political power dynamics within which trauma studies is enmeshed, and argue against the reification and objectification of trauma. It also allows for an intersubjective (re)interpretation of trauma that explicitly grounds the experiences of trauma in <em>social</em> and <em>political</em> contexts.</p> 2018-11-13T12:21:30+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Negotiating Life in Times of Crisis: The Transnational Return Migration of Refugee Adolescents and Young Adults from Germany to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq 2018-11-26T13:17:08+01:00 Simon Moses Schleimer <p>In this article, the concept of transnational migration serves as a foundation for analyzing the perspectives of children and adolescents on family movements of migration, their transnational practices, and their sense of belonging. The article discusses, on the basis of a case study, the critical situations children and young people encounter in the context of transnational migration and education. Drawing on Lorenzer’s methodology of hermeneutical cultural analysis, the researcher conducted a set of interviews with refugee children, adolescents, and young adults who have returned with their families from Germany to Iraqi Kurdistan. The article shows that, in light of the conflicts arising for the interviewees in the experience of transnational return, a special emphasis on education can aid their integration into the new society.</p> 2018-11-13T12:41:05+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement##