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Our Theory Split

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2011

Hosam Aboul-Ela
Affiliation:
Department of English, University of Houston, Houston, Tex.; e-mail: hosam.aboul-ela@mail.uh.edu
Corresponding

Extract

Near the beginning of his classic work of historiography, The History of the Maghrib: An Interpretive Essay, Moroccan thinker Abdallah Laroui inserts a footnote about a study of the region by a Harvard-based American author who refers to North Africa as “no idea producing area,” a statement that Laroui thoroughly dismantles in a couple of sentences. In this short note at the start of a book written forty years ago, Laroui pinpoints the central problem in U.S.-based studies of the Arab region. The historically contested nature of knowledge production in the field cannot be ignored in any attempt to address the question of critical theory's influence on Arabic literature in the American academy.

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Roundtable
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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References

1 Laroui, Abdallah, The History of the Maghreb: An Interpretive Essay, trans. Manheim, Ralph (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977), 23n1Google Scholar.

2 There was almost no representation of the Arab narrative in the United States by the late 1970s.

3 Aboul-Ela, Hosam, “Is There an Arab (Yet) in this Field?: Postcolonialism, Comparative Literature, and the Middle Eastern Horizon of Said's Discourse Analysis,” Modern Fiction Studies 26 (2010): 729–50Google Scholar. Full disclosure: a reading of a draft of this article by a copanelist in this forum and our ensuing e-mail debate provoked the present discussion.

4 Habibi, Emil, al-Waqaʾiʿ al-Ghariba fi Ikhtifaʾ Saʿid Abi al-Nahs al-Mutashaʾil (The Strange Chronicle of the Disappearance of Saʿid Abi al-Nahs the Pessoptimist) (Cairo: Dar al-Hilal, 1998)Google Scholar.

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