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Title: The dialectic of the sea and the desert : exile, commitment, and dissent in the novels of Abdulrahman Munif
Author: Sawafta, Suja R.
ISNI:       0000 0005 0291 7354
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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This doctoral thesis explores and synthesizes the relationship between exile, commitment, and dissent in the novels of the late Saudi-Iraqi petroleum-economist and novelist, Abdulrahman Munif ('Abd al-Raḥmān Munīf, 1933-2004). Munif, who transitioned from a career in politics to a career in literature in 1970, lived his entire life in a state of exile, a condition that significantly influenced the majority of his work. The Dialectic of the Sea and the Desert examines the thematic breadth of Munif's literary corpus and the manner in which it was inherently guided by exile. I use the concept of commitment (itlizām/engagement) as the nucleus of the project, a question that lies at the core of the project's whole. In turn, exile is at once the stimulant and the catalyst that drives a self-perpetuating cause and effect relationship, one that continues to inform and transform Munif's evolving notions of intellectual commitment. Dissent is the natural outcome; the conclusion borne out of Munif's socio-political and literary experiment of writing novels. As a medium, the novel is the vehicle that affords the writer the space to negotiate the aforementioned theoretical threads, while remaining committed to the representation of the popular strata in his works. As the title suggests, the two broad sub-regional divisions treated within the thesis are the Sea (the Arab Mediterranean, the Levant, Bilād al-shām) and the Desert (Arab Gulf, the Sahara, al-Khalīj al-'arabī). The first half of the thesis, focusing on the Levant and Iraq, incorporates themes of migration and the formation of the native intellectual. By contrast, the second half, focusing on the Gulf and the North African Sahara, focuses on notions of ecologically oriented indigeneity and the history of the Petroleum industry as it is represented through literature. Each chapter should be considered an independent exploration of a genre and/or style of writing within Munif's corpus rather than a continuation of the previous chapter. As such, each chapter utilizes its own set of methodologies and examines a number of fictional and non-fictional works from Munif's writings. In spite of the differences between them, however, all chapters, like Munif's books, are tied together by three common themes: exile, commitment, and dissent.
Supervisor: Omri, Mohamed-Salah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Persian Gulf ; Revolutionary literature, Arabic ; Environmental humanities ; Arabic literature--20th century ; Arabic literature ; Intellectual life--History--20th century ; Mediterranean influences ; Exile (Punishment) in literature