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The Fragmenting Force of Memory

Self, Literary Style, and Civil War in Lebanon

Author(s): Saadi Nikro

Book Description

This study is about experimental forms of cultural production that situate and work through personal experiences of the civil war in Lebanon. It addresses selected works of literature, autobiography and memoir by Jean Said Makdisi, Rashid al-Daif, Elias Khoury and Mai Ghoussoub, and the civil war trilogy of documentary films by Mohamed Soueid. From a phenomenological hermeneutic perspective, the book is concerned with how they give accounts of themselves as remnants, leftovers and undigested remains of the civil war, and of related trajectories of ideological attachment to symbolic mandates. Constrained to reposition their sense of self from an agent of history to a casualty of history, their acutely personal works of cultural production initiate an unraveling of both self and circumstance through the fragmenting force of memory.

Drawing on a broad range of phenomenological critical theory (within the research fields of postcolonial, memory, psychoanalytic, gender and literary studies) attuned to subjectivity as a field of social production and exchange, emphasis is given to how the writers and filmmaker employ a non-presentist, anachronic or paratactic register of memory to excavate both a historical understanding of self and related modalities of social viability. This concerns how the symptomatic style of their work embodies, and creatively and critically situates, a refusal to package and normailze any idealized account of the war, related assemblages of temporal succession, or a presentation of self as discrete and omniscient.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-3908-2
ISBN-10: 1-4438-3908-6
Date of Publication: 01/07/2012
Pages / Size: 215 / A5
Price: £39.99


Norman Saadi Nikro has a Lebanese-Australian background, and is currently a Research Fellow at Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. He previously held the position of Assistant Professor at Notre Dame University in Lebanon, 2001–2007. His work has been published in the journals Southerly, Plurale: Zeitschrift für Denkversionen, Postcolonial Text, and the edited volume Politics, Culture and the Lebanese Diaspora (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010).