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MENA Monday | New Directions Lecture. When Abu Salim Went to Africa: Emigrant Anxieties in Lebanese Cinema — Ghenwa Hayek

When: Monday, May 1, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Harris Hall, Room 108, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free of charge and open to the public.

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


This talk will explore anxieties around emigration in two early Lebanese films, Ila Ayn? ("Where To?" directed by George Nasr, 1958), and Abu Salīm fī Ifrīqya ("Abu Salim in Africa", directed by Gary Garabedian, c.1964). It interrogates the ways in which the cinematic form contributes to, and further develops, a Lebanese imaginary of exile that is often expressed through evocations of emigration to Africa, and the cultural and racial worries this emigration raises "back home".

Ghenwa Hayek is Assistant Professor of Modern Arabic Literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Beirut, Imagining the City: Space and Place in Lebanese Literature (I.B.Tauris, 2014), in which she develops an interdisciplinary engagement grounded in the fields of literary and cultural studies, critical geography and studies of nationalism and identity to trace modes of imagining the city of Beirut in Lebanese fiction from the late nineteenth century to the present.

Through close readings of texts from critical moments in Lebanon’s history, she shows how anxieties about belonging to the Lebanese state have been articulated through metaphors of dislocation in Beirut, and argues that changing conceptions of space and place have been used in literature both to frame and to interrogate notions of national identity and belonging not only during wartime, the period that much scholarly work on Lebanon focuses upon, but also during moments of relative calm.

Her current research explores the transnational spaces of the Lebanese diaspora, and the particular problem that emigration poses to the national imaginary and to national self- fashioning in Lebanon. She is also a translator. Her translations from Arabic have appeared in the literary magazine Banipal, in The New York Times and The International New York Times, and in the anthology Beirut 39: New Writing From the Arab World.

This lecture is part of the MENA program's quarterly New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies series, which presents scholars from a range of disciplines taking new approaches to the study of the region.


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