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Daoud’s Camus Fanfiction Is More of the Same

Kamel Daoud, The Meursault Investigation. Translated by John Cullen. New York: Other Press 2015. Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud’s debut novel The Meursault Investigation, recently translated into English, retells the story of Albert Camus’s The Stranger from the point of view of Harun, the brother of the unnamed Arab that Camus's hero, Meursault, murders. The Meursault Investigation has garnered great praise in American media, sparking multiple articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, and New Yorker. The portrait we are left with in all of these profiles is the same: Daoud is a brave writer, taking Camus to task for his blind spots (while still paying ...

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Planning Beirut during the French Mandate: The Construction of a Modern City and its Legacy

Marlène Ghorayeb, Beyrouth sous mandat français, construction d’une ville moderne. Paris: Karthala, 2014.   This is a wonderful addition to our knowledge of Beirut’s early days of modern planning, during the transition from Late Ottoman to French Mandate, and later. In the lineage of Jens Hanssen’s Fin de Siècle Beirut, Eric Verdeil’s Beyrouth et ses urbanistes, Carla Eddé’s Naissance d’une capitale, and Robert Saliba’s Beyrouth architectures: Aux sources de la modernité, the book is a must-read for those interested in the key spatial transformations of Beirut during the first part of the twentieth century. It nicely complements and enriches earlier texts by ...

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Un portrait de la jeunesse des banlieues populaires de Tunis aujourd’hui

Recension: Olfa Lamloun et Mohamed Ali Ben Zina (dir.), Les jeunes de Douar Hicher et d’Ettadhamen. Une enquête sociologique (Tunis: Arabesques, International Alert, 2015) Depuis les « printemps arabes », les jeunes du Monde arabe attirent volontiers l’attention des chercheurs. Dans la littérature scientifique de langue française, on pense notamment à Jeunesses arabes. Du Maroc au Yémen: loisirs, cultures et politiques sous la direction de Laurent Bonnefoy et Myriam Catusse et paru aux éditions La Découverte en 2013. C’est aussi le cas de cet ouvrage collectif dirigé par la politologue Olfa Lamloum et par le démographe Mohammed Ali Ben Zina, intitulé Les ...

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Reflections on Public Spaces in Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary Tunis

[Cover of Chiara Sebastiani,

Chiara Sebastiani, Una città, una rivoluzione. Tunisi e la riconquista dello spazio pubblico. Cosenza: Luigi Pellegrini Editore, 2014. Collective, Au centre de Tunis: Géographies de l’espace public après une Révolution, available online here. The question of public space has been among the most discussed ones during the short and often tragic season of the so-called "Arab Spring." From Cairo’s Tahrir Square to the streets of Damascus, researchers and commentators have examined the logics of mobilization, occupation, transformation, and re-appropriation of the symbolic meaning of space and resistance to repression. These logics are indicators of a possible ...

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Istanbul 2023

Yoann Morvan et Sinan Logie, Istanbul 2023, Paris: Editions B2, Coll. Territoires, 2014. Les éditions B2 ont récemment enrichi leur collection Territoires par un « arpentage dans le temps et l’espace » d’Istanbul. Mais pas dans n’importe quel Istanbul. Istanbul 2023, c’est avant toute chose le choix de raconter les métamorphoses de la mégapole turque à partir de l’analyse des recompositions socio-urbaines de ses périphéries. Grands projets d’infrastructures, villes nouvelles, nouveau centre financier sont quelques exemples parmi d’autres choisis par l’anthropologue Yoann Morvan (CNRS) et l’architecte Sinan Logie (Université Bilgi d’Istanbul) pour présenter ...

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Loving the Lens: ‘American Sniper’ as Movie and Event

[Still image from

American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood. USA, 2014. There is a lull at the moment in the clamor around Clint Eastwood's controversial film American Sniper, as award season ends and the movie's powerful box office stamina pushes the DVD release into the summer. This moment perhaps offers an opportunity to consider what—if anything—might or should be said about it as a piece of cinema. Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper in the title role, has to have been the most written about movie in the United States over the winter months, scoring the hat-trick with its critical success, box office wallop (the first American film about the invasion of Iraq to achieve such success), ...

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The Vagaries of Laïcité

[Detail from the cover of Naomi Davidson,

[This is the second of three responses to Muriam Haleh Davis’ review essay of books by Joan W. Scott, Naomi Davidson, and Mayanthi Fernando. For Joan W. Scott’s response, “More on Laïcité in Historical Context," click here.] A cartoon by the French cartoonist Gil from 10 January, titled “Communion nationale,” shows a white policeman frisking an ambiguously raced man standing against the wall with his hands in the air. “Je suis Charlie,” says the man, and the policeman replies, “Yeah, yeah, me too.” In the past month, many of us have seen an explosion of items in the French press about Muslims (be they radical/homegrown/foreign/prisoners/mentally ...

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More on Laïcité in Historical Context

[Image from the cover of Joan W. Scott,

[This is the first of three responses to Muriam Haleh Davis’ review essay of books by Joan W. Scott, Naomi Davidson, and Mayanthi Fernando. For Naomi Davidson's response, "The Vagaries of Laïcité," click here.] I find Muriam Haleh Davis’ commentary on Charlie Hebdo and French secularism (by way of a review of three books, one of which is mine) to be clear and to the point. Davis insists on the importance of placing in historical context the paradoxical claim that laïcité is a universal principle peculiar to the French republic, and she does it well. In this brief contribution I want simply to add some more context to the one she has so ably set forth. My ...

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A French Atlas of the Gulf States

[Cover of Philippe Cadène and Brigitte Dumortier,

Philippe Cadène and Brigitte Dumortier, Atlas of the Gulf States. Leiden: Brill, 2013. Mapping as a French Academic Tradition and its Critics It seems that English-speaking geographers and urbanists publish many fewer atlases, and draw fewer maps, than their French and—at least until recently—German counterparts. In France, there has been a frenzy of publishing atlases of everything and everywhere since the 1990s. What was first, at the advent of digital cartography, limited to academia, soon became a larger movement covering many topics and countries or regions of the world. The academic tradition of regional geography contributed to the launching of scientific books ...

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Sympathy for the Devil: Palestine’s Tragic Collaborators

[Film still from Hany Abu-Assad's Omar (2013). Image copyright the filmmaker. Courtesy of Film Press Plus.]

Omar, directed by Hany Abu-Assad. Palestine, 2013. Omar, the most recent film by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad (of Paradise Now fame), opens with a traversing of obstacles—a prefatory homage to the resilient Palestinian spirit. Exuding youthful vigor, the titular character scales the portion of the separation wall isolating his West Bank neighborhood from that of his childhood friends, his resistance brigade, and his love interest. Omar fearlessly scurries along the edges of buildings and leaps across rooftops, exercising what has, by now, become his routine refusal to accept the limits on life, work, and love imposed by the Israeli occupation. We watch him ...

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Do Not Compel Me to Sing

[Still image from

I Left My Shoes in Istanbul, directed by Nigol Bezjian. Lebanon/Turkey, 2013. Nigol Bezjian’s I Left My Shoes in Istanbul begins with its protagonist protesting that he has no desire to go on the journey that lies at the heart of the film. It ends with the haunting voice of a singer, begging the listener, “Do not implore me, I will not sing.” Between these two attempts to escape from a story that nevertheless must be told, Bezjian presents us with a vision that is deeply personal, not always coherent, but remarkably unsparing in documenting the presence of an enforced Armenian absence in Istanbul. Bezjian, who has written, directed, and produced for film and television ...

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The House of Melancholy and Strength

[Nooshin Rostami's

House of Strength  Performance by Nooshin Rostami Choreography by Merisha Mesihovic Industry City Open Studios, Brooklyn 26 April 2014    [House of Strength is a performance by the Iranian Brooklyn-based artist Nooshin Rostami inspired by the traditional Persian gymnasiums called Zoorkhane (House of Strength). The Zoorkhaneh is a place where male participants practice a lengthy series of exercises designed to build their bodies and skills. Women have been traditionally forbidden from participating in these activities at the gyms where male performances are led by a singer who chants sacred poetry and plays drums and bells. In this ...

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If Israeli Tactics in Gaza Are Legal, No One is Safe: Response to Michael N. Schmitt and John J. Merriam

In their forthcoming paper, The Tyranny of Context: Israeli Targeting Practices in Legal Perspective, Michael Schmitt and John J. Merriam examine Israel’s targeting practices against the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Their purpose is to scrutinize the context in which these attacks take place as well as the Israeli Army’s relevant legal standards regulating them. Their findings are based on two visits to Israel in December 2014 and February 2015. During those visits, the Israeli Army granted ...

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The Art of Posing

Zones of Contention: After The Green Line. 8 February – 3 May 2015. The Bob & Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery, Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In March 2015, I delivered an invited “Point of View Talk” at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Weatherspoon Art Museum on Zones of Contention: After the Green Line, an exhibit of works by Palestinian and Israeli artists, including a piece by Belgian Francis Alÿs, from which the exhibit draws its title. The ...

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The Armenian Genocide and the Politics of Knowledge

Ronald Grigor Suny, “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else": A History of the Armenian Genocide. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. In this centennial year since the Armenian Genocide, countless conferences, meetings, and commemorations are underway across the globe. While they have all been peaceful so far, they come at the end of a century of violence. I refer not just to the events of 1915-17, but also the waves of violence spurred by memory, recognition, and denial ever since. ...

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Twelve Years After Iraq Invasion: An Interview with Rijin Sahakian, and “ A Letter to Al-Mutanabbi Street” by Sinan Antoon

On 19 March 2015, twelve years will have passed since the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Today, the country is back in the headlines because of the brutality with which ISIS has been trying to destroy what is left of Iraq’s diverse cultural and human landscape. Since ISIS has moved into northern Iraq, they have displaced over a million people and gone after the cultural heritage that makes Iraq such an irreplaceable locus of world history. They have destroyed mosques, burned thousands of books in the ...

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Imperial Consequences of Things: An Interview with Alan Mikhail

In this interview, Alan Mikhail discusses his own work on the environmental history of the Ottoman Empire, the wider intervention of environmental history, and the challenge of interdisciplinarity. The interview was initially conducted in person at the 2013 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conference and elaborated electronically over the course of 2014. Alan Mikhail, Professor of History at Yale University, is a historian of the early modern Muslim world, the Ottoman Empire, and Egypt. ...

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A New Secularism?

[This is the third of three responses to Muriam Haleh Davis’ review essay of books by Joan W. Scott, Naomi Davidson, and Mayanthi Fernando. For Joan W. Scott’s response, “More on Laïcité in Historical Context," click here; for Naomi Davidson’s response, “The Vagaries of Laïcité,” click here.] In bringing the work of Joan Scott and Naomi Davidson together with mine, Muriam Haleh Davis demonstrates the importance of undertaking a history of the present. This history enables us to identify some of the ...

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Dead Sea Living

Dead Sea Living, directed by German Gutierrez. Canada/France/Palestine, 2013. Although the Dead Sea has no life, it provides living through the rich minerals extracted from it. Yet the flood of water into the Dead Sea is slowly receding. It has witnessed a ninety-foot drop in only thirty years on a lake that is just sixty-seven kilometers long and twenty kilometers wide. At this rate, the Dead Sea will bottom out as a small pond in about fifty years. German Gutierrez’s film Dead Sea Living depicts the ...

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‘A Distinctly French Universalism’: Translating Laïcité after Charlie

Mayanthi L. Fernando, The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. Naomi Davidson. Only Muslim: Embodying Islam in Twentieth-Century France. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012. Joan Wallach Scott. The Politics of the Veil. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. It was impossible to avoid the discussion, despite my repeated protests. In Lyon, as in the rest of France, there was nothing else to talk about—especially when I ...

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Displaced Intentions

Write Down, I Am an Arab, directed by Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin. Israel/Palestine, 2014. Borrowing the opening line of one of Mahmoud Darwish’s most famous poems, “Identity Card,” filmmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin titled her latest documentary Write Down, I Am an Arab. The film, which had its world premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival in April of this year, is described as a biographical portrait of the poet who became the voice of Palestinian people. However, in her director’s statement, the ...

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Understanding Modernity: A Review of the Kuwait Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

On 6 June 2014, the Kuwait pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia’s 14th International Architecture Exhibition opened with a restaging of an event that took place three decades earlier: the ceremonial opening of the Kuwait National Museum. Under the heading “Acquiring Modernity” (responding to the overall Biennale theme “Absorbing Modernity”), the Kuwait pavilion seeks to “articulate the nation’s history of modernization” by focusing its participation on the history of the national museum, first ...

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Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar in Translation

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, The Time Regulation Institute, translated by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe, introduction by Pankaj Mishra. New York: Penguin, 2014.   The verbal text is jealous of its linguistic signature but impatient of national identity. Translation flourishes by virtue of that paradox.  — Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Translation as Culture” 1. Traveling Tanpınar 2014 marks the appearance of a second English translation of one of the funniest satirical novels of the ...

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Israel and the Palestinian Territories Lonely Planet: Systematic Erasure and Casual Racism

Haifa is a picturesque city of hills, gardens, and trendy cafes perched along the slopes of Mount Carmel in northern Israel. If the Lonely Planet guidebook is to be believed, Haifa is notable because Arabs and Jews live in “visible harmony,” and residents consider themselves a “model of tolerance” for the region (158). In Israel/Palestine, it seems, all it takes for harmony to prevail is for Arabs and Jews to sip lattes together—or at least close to each other, while speaking in Hebrew of course. After ...

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Jadaliyya Reviews offers a place for commentary, debates, and exchanges on books, fims, videos, art, theater, music, new media, conferences, protests, and events. Visit our Call for Reviews page for more information about submitting posts/reviews online! Send your reviews to: reviews@jadaliyya.com

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