Dwelling in the Barzakh: Mad Archives of the Lebanese Civil War

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2020

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Abstract

The idiom of madness is ubiquitous in Lebanese cultural production about the country’s 1975-1990 civil war. Despite this, there has been no investigation into what, and how, this madness signifies. In Dwelling in the Barzakh: Mad Archives of the Lebanese Civil War, I work to fill this gap through an analysis of representations of madness in fiction, documentary film, and photography-based art from 1975-2015. I argue that madness is defined multiply throughout this time period, reflecting and responding to the political and social realities, as well as psychic perceptions, of life in Lebanon. The forms of madness articulated through these cultural texts are to be understood as the symptom of a populace dwelling in the barzakh, here defined as a spatiotemporal site of simultaneous rupture and (re)unification.

In what follows, I offer historicized close-readings of Arabic-, French- and English-language cultural texts. Analyzing these texts alongside the political backdrops against which they were produced, I derive theories of madness from the texts, pinpointing how both medium-specificity and the historical contingency of production help inform respective theories of madness in and after war.

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Ragin, Renee Michelle (2020). Dwelling in the Barzakh: Mad Archives of the Lebanese Civil War. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20913.

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