The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) has published Tabayyun 14 (Autumn/Fall, 2015), the ACRPS’s quarterly dedicated to philosophical and cultural studies. The six academic articles carried in this latest edition cover a diverse set of topics, ranging from contemporary Arabic novels, the presence of Al Andalus in contemporary Arab culture and epistemology (a complete list of the abstracts is included below).
In addition to the peer-reviewed articles, this edition of Tabayyun also includes a number of extended essays, expositions and book reviews including: Wajih Kawtharani’s review of Volume I of Religion and Religiosity by Azmi Bishara; Mohammed Jassim Jabara’s essay “On the Question of the Arabic Language and the Ideology of Arab Unity”; Ahmad Al-Jarti’s “The Arab Novel, Literary Criticism, and the Creative Imagination of Youmna Eid”; and finally, Khalid Al-Arif contributed “Third Space in the Novels of Waciny Laredj: Effacing the boundaries”.
This and previous issues of Tabayyun, as well as all other ACRPS publications, are available through our electronic bookstore.
List of Abstracts
"The Arab Novel, Literary Criticism, and the Creative Imagination of Youmna Eid", Ahmad al-Jarti
"Third Space in the Novels of Waciny Laredj: Effacing the boundaries", Khalid al-Arif
"Manifestations of the Philosophical Presence of al-Andalus in Contemporary Arab Culture", Mohammad al-Misbahi
"Deconstructing Arab Epistemological Dependency", Mohammad Abdul Rahman Hassan
, Wajih Kawtharani
"Lyotard against Sartre", Labib al-Saeed
The Arab Novel, Literary Criticism, and the Creative Imagination of Youmna Eid
Al-Jarti tracks the latest developments in the work of renowned academic and critic Youmna Eid. The study discusses her analytical readings of Arabic novels, particularly those written by women, and examines the extent to which she has remained true to her critical path. In her most prominent work On Knowledge of the Text, Eid emphasized the need to engage with Western concepts of criticism and to transplant these into the Arab cultural realm given the sophistication of Arabic fictional texts. In Eid’s view, such an effort could inform the generation of a constructive cultural criticism that would enable an engagement with ‘the other’ free of the ballast of epistemological absolutes, and one that could successfully bring into relief the key questions of Arabic literary criticism and its methodological and intellectual milestones.
Third Space in the Novels of Waciny Laredj: Effacing the boundaries
This study looks at post-colonial theory as a frame of discourse developed by theoreticians beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century. It sees the ideas of post-colonialism as ideas based on the concept of representation as the quintessentially political act, the central concept introduced by Edward Said in his work Orientalism. Indian critic Homi Bhabha, however, developed other concepts through his critique of Said, such as hybridity, mimicry, cultural difference and ‘third space.’ The last critique, the issue of ‘third space,’ generated a great deal of criticism, but remains among the most important of Bhabha’s ideas. It is to this concept that the current study turns.
Manifestations of the Philosophical Presence of al-Andalus in Contemporary Arab Culture
The distinguishing feature of the Andalusian philosophical model is its openness to all forms of rational thought – evidential, doctrinal, jurisprudential, historical and mystical – by virtue of its dialectical nature and its propensity for dialogue in search of common ground. Some cultural currents in the contemporary Arab world feel that drawing upon the Andalusian model is not enough, and that it is imperative to open up a new model developed through the needs of the present. Yet, Andalusian rationality did not limit itself to considering reason alone to be the natural light that illuminates both our inner being and the world; it was also open to the light of faith and soulful passion, of history and urbanity. The Andalusian model teaches us that we need to take advantage of multiple sources of enlightenment.
Deconstructing Arab Epistemological Dependency
Mohammad Abdul Rahman Hassan
In the past 50 years projects that have deconstructed contemporary Arab epistemological dependency have given rise to a great deal of discussion. Deconstructing contemporary Arab epistemological dependency involves taking on a project to critically assess a noteworthy group of Arabic writings, evaluating or refuting their main theses. The findings of such projects have often been criticized, and criticism falls into two categories. The first is an assumption that the intellectual starts out reading texts from a preset position informed by a particular ideology, and therefore reads set of texts in a particular way. The second assumption is that the intellectual makes use of concepts and methodological frameworks developed by modern Western thought, and does not re-create frameworks according to the requirements of his or her own consideration of the matter at hand. Such criticism, however, should not lose sight of the positive results achieved by these deconstructionist projects, for they produced important debates regarding the reflection of Arab thought upon itself, and posed important questions regarding the relationship of text to the moment of reading the text. This study turns to two instances where such questions were asked: the inter-related formulations: heritage and renewal; and authenticity and contemporaneity.
A Reading of Azmi Bishara’s Project: Religion and Religiosity – a Prolegomenon to Volume One of Religion and Secularism
In his landmark texts, Azmi Bishara calls for the development of a new epistemological and methodological standpoint in Arab research into religion and types of religiosity, urging this as an alternative to the secularist Arab tendency to ignore or disregard these topics. The study of religion and religiosity ultimately connects with the study of secularism and secularization in Azmi Bishara’s The Transition from the Study of Religion and Religiosity to the Study of Secularism, in the fifth and final chapter of the first volume. He concludes his prolegomenon – a book in its own right – with a summary of his starting point before proceeding to the second volume of his project: The Intellectual Process of Secularization and Secularism. This project offers an in-depth examination of Bishara’s thinking and explores its ramifications.
Lyotard against Sartre
Taking up a commitment to writing, or, in the words of Lyotard “writing one’s commitment,” is an impossible task. This is because, as Sartre put it, such commitment “presumes a present, that is, a situation of presence, a destination to which we arrive: an action and those to whom something is sent.” Sartre’s concept of situation implies a reality that we are present in, and that we wish to exit from towards another present, another situation. This makes it clear, however, that there are no individuals with whom we share our understanding of the situations within which we live, and to whom we write – no recipients for our missives. Consequently we only commit to writing what we deem to be appropriate and to be worthy of expression. Sartre believed that this problematic extends from reality (general and comprehensive) in all of its phenomenological meanings – what we perceive and shape with our consciousness – to reality in the Marxist sense – reflecting our consciousness – but which in reality only began as “a little story,” a fable whose purpose is to prevent us from mixing reality with imagination. The story or situation that seeks to represent or to present us with reality is itself imaginary. Sartre believed that even in political texts, reality is revealed only through the act of writing.