Our Fate, Our House

by Sahar Khalifeh
published in MER164

Many Palestinian stories are the stories of sons: heroes or victims, Everyman or Superman. In the intifada, the rebellious young men, the shabab, have become the sons of all the people and their exploits legendary.

Sahar Khalifeh’s stories, like her own life, are the stories of daughters, mothers and self. This story about Umm Samih resumes Khalifeh’s exploration of characters from the northern West Bank town of Nablus which figure in her three novels, Wild Thorns, The Sunflower and the semi-autobiographical Memoirs of an Unreliable Woman.

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Culture, State and Revolution

by Sonali Pahwa , Jessica Winegar
published in MER263

The Arab uprisings have brought major challenges, as well as unprecedented opportunities, to the culture industries. According to a flurry of celebratory news articles from the spring of 2011 onward, protest art is proliferating in the region, from graffiti in Egypt to hip-hop in Morocco to massive photographic displays and political cartoons gone viral in Tunisia. These articles then adopt a predictably ominous tone to express the concern that resurgent Islamist forces represent a danger to arts and culture writ large.

Choueiri, Arab History and the Nation-State

by Peter Gran
published in MER169

Marxism in the United States developed on the margin of society. Shunned by organized labor, it has confronted this society as an outsider. Until the 1970s, the most successful American Marxist works of scholarship were macro studies by economists, written as if from a distance and emphasizing economic more than political and cultural aspects of rule and resistance to rule. Then the tableau in political economy began to widen. The writings of Eugene Genovese were an important part of this process. Politics was returning.

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Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Art in Egypt's Revolutionary Square

by Ursula Lindsey | published January 2012

On January 7, under a clear chill sky, the monthly culture festival al-Fann Midan (Art Is a Square) took place in Cairo’s ‘Abdin plaza. In the sunny esplanade facing the shuttered former royal palace, spectators cheered a succession of musical acts, took in a display of cartoons and caricatures, and wandered from tables selling homemade jewelry to others handing out the literature of the Revolutionary Socialists or the centrist Islamist party al-Wasat. The drama troupe Masrah al-Maqhurin (Theater of the Oppressed) put on a series of skits requiring audience participation. In the first, a daughter left the family house against her father’s will, and with her mother’s connivance, to attend a birthday party. She was caught and reported by her brother, and then beaten by her father. In the participatory iterations that followed, a young woman from the audience chose to play the brother and, to much laughter, told the sister: “I won’t tell Dad I saw you in the street if you don’t tell him I was at the café.” Another audience member played the mother, working arduously but in vain to convince the father to allow the girl out of the house under her brother’s supervision. Interestingly, no one in the audience chose to incarnate -- and change the behavior of -- the authoritarian and violent father.

Cooke, War's Other Voices

by Barbara Harlow
published in MER168

Miriam Cooke, War’s Other Voices: Women Writers on the Lebanese Civil War (Cambridge, 1988).

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Satanic Verses in Detroit

by Nabeel Abraham
published in MER168

Ayatollah Khomeini’s death sentence of February 14, 1989 continues to affect the lives of people far removed from its original target -- author Salman Rushdie. More than a year later, in Dearborn, Michigan, local sympathizers of the ayatollah within the Arab American community disrupted a talk on Rushdie’s Satanic Verses by Nabeel Abraham, an Arab American activist and member of the MERIP board of directors. Abraham talked about his experience with journalist Jonathan Scott.

Why were the protesters so fiercely opposed to your lecture?

Binder, Islamic Liberalism

by Sami Zubaida
published in MER171

Leonard Binder, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideologies (Chicago, 1988).

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War and Sexuality

by Joel Beinin
published in MER171

The Gulf way may ultimately transform Arab politics even more radically than the political-military defeats of 1948 and 1967. Those experiences were the midwives of self-critical reassessments that, while severe, accepted the fundamental legitimacy of Arab nationalism and its political project. In the 1980s a current of feminist thinking emerged, expressed most consistently in Lebanese women’s fiction about the civil war, that poses questions challenging the coherence and viability of this project and its ordering of political and social priorities.

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The Intellectuals and the War

An Interview with Edward Said

by Barbara Harlow
published in MER171

Edward Said is Parr Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, a member of the Palestine National Council and a contributing editor of this magazine. Along with Noam Chomsky, he is one of the foremost opposition public intellectuals in the United States, a role he plays in the Arab world as well. Barbara Harlow interviewed him in New York in early April 1991.

How would you characterize the portrayal of the Gulf crisis and war in the US and in Europe?

Layoun and Boullata

by Saree Makdisi
published in MER174

Mary Layoun, Travels of a Genre: The Modern Novel and Ideology (Princeton, 1990).

Issa Boullata, Trends and Issues in Contemporary Arab Thought (SUNY, 1990).

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