POLITICAL PRISON DISCOURSE IN THE ARAB WORLD: SELECTED WRITINGS FROM EGYPT AND SYRIA
AL SAMMAN, HANADI
This work discusses selected prison writings in the Arab world from the second half of the last century to the present. Political prison writing discussed in this dissertation can be read against, and in conjuncture with, each other as interconnected manifestations of discourse and of the power struggles that give meaning to specific concepts of truth. In contrast to Michel Foucault’s depiction of the Western prison as a disciplinary institution that reforms the soul, the Arab prison is meant to destroy the soul. The state refers to the prisoners as animals and by animals we do not mean the adorable pet we keep at home but the subhuman animals (hayawanat). The animalization or haywana is used in this work to mean dehumanization through which those prisoners are not only turned into docile bodies but also deprived of their humanity. This haywana takes place in two ways: 1) Treating the prisoners in ways that they become as animals (hayawanat), and 2) calling them using animal names. When we deprive someone of their humanity, when they become subhuman (hayawan), then their punishment becomes justified. The prisoners know the rules put by the state and they know what they have to do to follow them, yet they choose not to. They not only refuse to become “docile bodies” but they also resist the haywana strategy as well as their designation as hayawanat thereby becoming “active agents of resistance.” This work argues that power is a commodity in its exercise and no party simply possesses power. Looking at selected writings from Egypt and Syria, this dissertation further argues that Arab authoritarian regimes have failed to intimidate and silence Arab writers who resisted with a counter-hegemonic discourse based on the praxis of writing and publishing. These writers resisted by rewriting their humanity onto their bodies and their writings became an affirmation, an advocate for that humanity.
MetadataShow full item record
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Constitutionalism in the Arab World: Questions on Discourse Ideology, and Epistemology Alnoaimi, Ramzan (2015)Because “Law” is, in essence, a social construction, it cannot be examined separately from the social conditions that produced it. This dissertation looks at the importance of “discourse” as a social condition that ...