Representations and visions of home, homeland (watan), and nation are perennial themes in Arabic literary writing. In its most recent iteration, namely modern Arabic poetry and prose, these ideas are framed against the backdrop of an increasingly expansive conceptual universe, taking in a wide array of artistic and intellectual expressions. Indeed, the notion and prospect of home and homeland gained even great currency in contemporary Arabic literature, largely in light of the Arab uprisings in 2010 and 2011, where the Arab people attempted to reclaim their countries from the many oppressive power structures guilty of robbing them of their homeland.
The present volume highlights the complexity, diversity, and vitality of literary voices in expressing a broad spectrum of ideas and images centered around the Arab homeland and nation. This book therefore contributes to a deeper understanding of the historical dimensions and literary representations of home and homeland in the modern Arab world on the one hand, and the far-reaching cultural and political impact of these concepts on the other.
The thematic spectrum of this book ranges from studies of writings on home and nostalgia, travel accounts, didactic epistles, and prison memoirs, as well as the nahda-literature and the genre of collective autobiographies or “village books”. While some essays focus on the processes of symbolic nation-building, others deal with the literary techniques and poetic devices that modern Arab authors employ in order to deconstruct and question the political discourses on watan and Arab nationalism.
This collection of essays is the result of a symposium held in 2011 at the University of Göttingen, Germany. The contributors to the volume are renowned specialists in Arabic literature and Middle East Studies working in Universities across the globe, including such countries as Australia, Denmark, Lebanon, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, and Germany.