Political Animals and the Animality of a Human Other : The Lebanese Civil War as Site of Exclusion

Kalousian, Madonna and Moore, Lindsey and Greaney, Michael (2018) Political Animals and the Animality of a Human Other : The Lebanese Civil War as Site of Exclusion. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis extends the scope of literary and political studies of the Lebanese Civil War by mapping the politics of war-time and post-war Lebanon onto shifting human-animal dynamics. I argue that the Lebanese Civil War suspended the rule of law and enabled the exercising of arbitrary sovereignty upon the subjects it violently excluded from ‘the political’ and reduced to the status of ungrievable otherness. Chapter One explores Giorgio Agamben’s paradigmatic example of ‘bare life’ in relation to Judith Butler’s conceptualisation of ‘precarious life’. This theoretical comparison illuminates the sense, as I argue in Chapter Two, Three, and Four, that an arrival at a post-war politics of inclusion is contingent on an inclusive articulation of bareness and precarity. Lebanese Civil War literature, as I perceive it, enables this counter-narrativisation through an imaginative diagnosis of the human-animal dynamic on which the categories of exception I identify in this thesis are premised. These categories are the sectarian other in Ghada Al-Samman’s Beirut Nightmares (1976) and Hoda Barakat’s The Tiller of Waters (2001); the queer other in Rashid Al-Daif’s Passage to Dusk (2001), AlSamman’s Beirut ’75 (1995), and Hoda Barakat’s The Stone of Laughter (1994); and memory as other in Rabee Jaber’s The Mehlis Report (2013) and Najwa Barakat’s Oh, Salaam! (2015). Chapter Five articulates the way in which Shatila Refugee Camp is a spatialisation of Lebanon’s contemporary politics of exclusion as represented in Mischa Hiller’s Sabra Zoo (2011) and Meike Ziervogel’s project of Shatila Stories (2018). I conclude with the proposition that when Lebanon supersedes its exclusionary war-time politics, its post-war reality would begin to work towards an inclusive redefinition of Lebaneseness.

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08 Apr 2022 14:40
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16 Jul 2024 05:58