Faculty Mentor

Dr. Nadine Sinno


Through examining the formations of identity- religious, political, secular, social, and sexual in contemporary Arabic literature in translation, one can come to better understand how certain core assumptions about identity are countered and represented through the process of identification with the self and the community. Using postcolonial and feminist sources in Anthropology, History, and Comparative Literature, This paper shows how the formation of identity (and its discourse) is constructed through the interplay of political and social factors closely related to the discursive power of colonial practices. The first novel examined is Tayeb Salih’s Seasons of Migration to the North, which deals in depth with the process of colonization and how this affects the protagonists understanding of the self. It is argued that this is due to the modernizing power of the state through attempting to create a certain type of ‘modern subject’. The second novel that examined is Sahar Khalifeh’s Wild Thorns. This novel addresses the external manifestations of colonial policies in the creation of the Israeli State. While both of the novel’s protagonists experience displacement, the analysis will elaborate how each character interacts with the issue of displacement in light of their social position generally and their community specifically. The final novel, Hanan al-Shaykh’s The Story of Zahra, illuminates how internal dispositions and external manifestations come together to complicate our understandings of the process of identification, and how war, sex, and modernity restructure aspects of the self and its relation to the community. These three novels provide an illuminating point of analysis and critique narratives attempting to simplify the complicated "problem-space" of (post-)colonialism, its policies, and the interactions that create subjective experiences.

Cover Page Note

Without the encouragement of Dr. Nadine Sinno this project would have never been completed. All praises go to her gracious editing and guidance.