Arabic Literature: Migration, Diaspora, Exile, Estrangement


November 7-9 (Thursday - Saturday)

Nov. 7: Butler Library, 203 Ground Floor, 116 and Broadway

Nov. 8-9: Knox Hall 509, Columbia University, 606 West 122nd Street 

Arabic literature's relationship with questions of migration, diaspora and exile date from early Islamic engagements with hijrah or migration, to our own diasporic and exilic present, conveyed in the poetry and prose of migration, war, alienation, estrangement and displacement. We invite you to consider how Arab experiences of migration, diaspora, exile and estrangement mark and form Arabic literature, with an eye not only to the thematic terms of this encounter, but also its manifestations in debates over genre, publication geography, and literary historiography. Scholars working in all periods of Arabic literary and theoretical production are warmly invited to submit abstracts.

Topics will include: Poetry of the so-called Arab spring and its increasing diasporas; Palestinian literature, and the prose and poetics of exile, alienation and diaspora; Migration of literary and theoretical schools and movements between cities in the Arab world; Arabic literary engagements with Marxism and socialism; Arabic literature and world literary schools, such as existentialism, magical realism, modernism, etc.; Politics and history of literary translation to and from Arabic; Literary geographies and historiographies of the Nahdah/of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; Mahjar literature and poetics, old and new (experiencing America); The Francophone experience; Arab-American literary journalism, novels and poetry from the turn of the twentieth century to the present; Beur literature and film in contemporary France; Dislocation in Arabic travelogues; Formal and thematic itineraries of alienation in Arabic popular storytelling; Abbasid poetics of exile; Andalusian diaporas and their contemporary appropriation; Migration and journey in Arabic poetics.

Organizer: Professor Muhsin al-Musawi    


Elizabeth Holt, Bard College
Yasmine Khayyat, Rutgers University
Tarek al-Ariss, University of Texas at Austin

Steering Committee:

Joscelyn Jurich
Wendell Hassan Marsh
Max Shmookler
Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah

 This event is open to the public and sponsored by Columbia University's Department of Middle East, South Asian and African Studies and Middle East Institute, as well as Columbia University Seminars and Brill Academic Publishers.

For more information, please visit here.