Although Anglophone Arab literature has been in existence at least since the early 20th century, it has only recently begun to be recognized as an academic research field in its own right. The last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in Anglophone works by Arab writers and artists, creating both new spaces for their diverse voices as well as new urgencies of expression and criticism.
Anglophone Arab representations have moved from early assimilationist (and often self-orientalizing) defensiveness to critical self-assertion and narrative counter-strategies of correlation. Speaking to their own realities and charting spaces for their own trues (and lies!) beyond the stereotypical representations of Orientalism and Occidentalism, contemporary writers and artists call for political liberation on the global level and for individual emancipation within specific local contexts. Their creative works blur both the reductionist cultural binary of the European-American West versus the Arab-Islamic East as well as this binary’s implicit claim of authentic places of origin and destinations of assimilation.
Focusing on the post 9/11 era, the lecture offers a wide-ranging overview of cultural articulations produced by Arab intellectuals across the world. Ranging from the writings of the first New York City based émigré school of Arab writing in English to recent audio-visual interventions by Arab transmigrants into the spheres of international concept and performance art, it explores the transformation of literary and artistic practice in relation to shifting local and global contexts. The lecture places these works within the larger nomenclature of postcolonialism.