Telling Tales, Performing Justice: The Political Subject of the Hikaya

Monday, 27 February 2012, 13:00 - 14:00
Loughborough University, Room U113, 1st floor, Brockington Building, Social Sciences Department

Deena Dajani will speak on 'Telling Tales, Performing Justice: The Political Subject of the Hikaya' at the Culture and Media Analysis Research Group (CAMARG) of Loughborough University.

If Arabic drama and Greek theatre shared the same beginnings (both emerging from ceremonies of fertility) then why have the Greek traditions of theatre (both tragedy and comedy) been read as political but the Arabic traditions dismissed as ‘folkloric’? Consider three texts: an eighth century theatrical script called Muhakkamat al-Khulafa [Trial of the Caliphs], a thirteenth century shadow-play titled al-Ajeeb wa al-Ghareeb [The Bemusing and The Strange] and an oral tale told among the women of Tetoun in Morocco (who trace their ancestry to al-Andulus in Spain) titled ‘Ali wa Yaghzel? [Ali, and a Spinner Too?]. All three texts illustrate Arabic dramatic traditions from different times and places and each constitutes a genre of hikaya [Arabic for tale, pl. hakaya]. Can these hakaya articulate a form of the political that has remained inarticulable within western political thought? The paper begins by discussing three theoretical claims (called stories) that address the question of the political and its categories within western political thought: Habermas’s theory of the [bourgeois] public sphere, Arendt’s political traditions and Foucault’s subjugated knowledges. With these readings the paper offers the three hakaya and addresses the questions: what political subjectivities do the hakaya give expression to? How does the subject of the hikaya constitute itself relative to understandings of justice and rights? Do the political subjectivities articulated and constituted through the telling of the hakaya operate within existing understandings of the political or do they uncover the limits of such understandings and make possible new interpretations?

For more information please visit the CAMARG events page.

Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour ERC-AG-SH2).

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