Ḥukm al-Nās (The Rule of the People?): Muḥammad al-Muwayliḥī and Arabic Literature in the Long 1890s
The project tackles the persistent problem of periodization and genre categorization in histories of modern Arabic literature, particularly in relation to works written and published in the late 19th century. It discloses the issue as the manifestation, in the literary field, of an un-even development, linking it to its recent reincarnations in world literature and critical studies of al-nahḍa (the Arab Renaissance). Dipesh Chakrabarty’s famous critique of the ‘not-yet’ is turned against itself to develop a new approach for reading literature, (social) history, and the relationship between them in the long 1890s. It radicalizes Chakrabarty’s proposal of understanding various facets of capitalist modernity through translatability, turning to untranslatability. The latter does not institute a closed approach to an area. Rather, it offers untranslatability as a diverging mode of understanding global processes necessitated by recent developments in the world since 2011.
Beyond Arabic literature, the book will emphasize the methodological and theoretical contribution of the thesis vis-à-vis structuralism, historical materialism, and hermeneutics.