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Martyrs of the Arab Left: From Individual Recollections to Collective Memory

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Idriss Jebari, Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin presents “Martyrs of the Arab Left: From Individual Recollections to Collective Memory”.



Trinity College Dublin joins Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education for another Online Middle Eastern Studies Webinar. Delivered by lecturers from the Al Maktoum Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Trinity College Dublin, the webinar series is a window into the astonishing variety and interest of themes and questions in research on the Middle East. The webinar will give a flavour of postgraduate-level study of the Middle East, ancient and modern. It serves as a way of learning more about the newly launched masters degree in The Middle East in a Global Context’ at Trinity College Dublin.

About the lecture

The histories of the Arab Left are rife with heroic stories of those who gave their lives for the cause of socialism or communism. These figures are elevated, celebrated, and commemorated to inspire successive generations of party militants. Faced with this excess of memory, is there a risk to produce mythical histories of martyrs that mask rather than enlighten the past? This talk aims to explore the histories and forms of remembrance of the martyrs of the Left by drawing on three countries and three periods – Lebanon during the Civil War (1975-90), Morocco during the Years of Lead (1965-90), and Tunisia after the 2011 Revolution. In each case, I will focus on how individual martyrs are remembered by their families and their comrades, and how party structures and official historians then produce stories and narratives to serve their broader political aims. This talk will borrow from and reflect on the multiple historical sources that go into producing these mythical histories of the Arab Left: from testimonies, newspapers, party archives, and now the digital sphere. In all, they give us access to a painful past that still resonates powerfully in the present.

About the speaker

Idriss Jebari is Al Maktoum Assistant Professor in Middle East Studies. His research focuses on North African cultural history and Arab thought. After completing his doctorate in the history of the production of critical thought in Morocco and Tunisia at the University of Oxford, he held a postdoctoral fellowship at the American University of Beirut to study the dynamics of intellectual and cultural exchanges between the Maghrib and the Mashriq. He held an Andrew Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Bowdoin College (Maine, USA) where he taught Middle East History.

He has published on the intellectual projects of several North African intellectual figures such as Abdelkebir Khatibi, Mohamed Abed al-Jabri and Malek Bennabi, and on the theory and practice of Arab intellectual engagements in public affairs. He also works on collective memory in the Arab world, especially its role in reconciliation processes and transitional justice. He is currently preparing his first monograph on the Maghrib, Arab Thought and Cultural Modernity.

He is involved in a number of initiatives to promote humanities and social sciences in the Arab region and provides analysis and comments on current issues relating to social and political change in North Africa.

More information regarding the lecture topic coming soon.