Wednesday, 31 May 2017, 6 pm - 7.30 pm |
Centre Marc Bloch, Germaine Tillion Saal, 8th floor, Friedrichstr. 191, 10117 Berlin

Beyond Tragedy and Betrayal: Towards an Intellectual History of the Arab Nahda


Jens Hanssen
(University of Toronto)

Chair: Leyla Dakhli
(Berlin, Centre Marc Bloch)

Abstract
The Nahda has served as the bedrock of discourses of Arab modernity ever since it first acquired programmatic status in the 1890s. If the study of this 19th- and early 20th century reform-and-revival movement  has traditionally been the domain of historians in search for the roots of Arab nationalism, recently new literary approaches have widened the scope of inquiry and focussed on how Nahda narratives have perpetuated ideas of cultural defeat and intellectual betrayal. This talk explores how an intellectual history of the Nahda can move beyond the vindicationism of nationalist readings and the vituperative readings of contemporary literary critics.

Jens Hanssen is Associate Professor of Arab Civilization, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean history at the University of Toronto where he teaches Arab intellectual history, the late Ottoman Empire, settler colonialism in Palestine, Counter-insurgency and decolonization in the Middle East, and urban colonialism in the modern Mediterranean. His past book publications include Fin de Siècle Beirut (2005) and a co-edited volume on Arab Provincial Capitals in the Late Ottoman Empire (2002). He is currently co-editing the OUP Handbook of Contemporary Middle Eastern and North African History with Amal Ghazal and the second CUP volume of Arabic Thought Beyond the Liberal Age with Max Weiss. He has also just submitted, with Hicham Safieddine, an English translation of Nafir Suriyya  to California University Press. He is currently writing a book under contract with OUP on The Middle East at the Fin de Siècle which explores how the fast-paced developments at the turn of the 19th-century affected cultural production on all sides of the Mediterranean Sea. He also holds a SSHRC Insight Grant (2014-2018) on German-Jewish Echoes in 20th Arab Thought which has yielded two articles so far: Kafka and Arabs (Critical Inquiry, 2012), and Translating Revolution: Hannah Arendt and Arab Political Culture.