Exile, Affiliation and Marginality in Syria’s Literature: a Process of Un-Labelling

in La rivista di Arablit, a. XII, n. 23, giugno 2022, pp. 85-99.

The unprecedented wave of protests and the subsequent reaction of the Syrian regime to the popular uprising of 2011 have transformed Syria’s field of cultural production exposing disparate political affiliations and giving way to open manifestations of dissent to authoritarianism. This article explores Syria’s field of cultural production and in particular the role of writers vis-à-vis the resilience of authoritarian rule and the emergence of large-scale contestation in their country. By looking at the different trajectories of Zakariyyā Tāmir and Ḫālid Ḫalīfah, two of the country’s most celebrated artists, and at the disparity in their levels of public engagement and prominence both in Syria and abroad, this article accounts for the transformations Syrian dissident intellectuals have undergone in the last decade. The analysis proposes an approach that accounts for the complexities that dissident writers face equally inside and outside the country, as well as for the new scenarios that the Syrian revolution has revealed.

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Alessandro Columbu | PhD candidate in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh and Arabic teacher in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester.