2023/ 2024

Yvonne Albers

Chronotopias: Revolution and the Cultural Magazine in the Arab Long Sixties

Previous Fellowships: 2022/ 2023, 2021/ 2022

Yvonne Albers is a scholar of modern Middle Eastern thought, media and performative arts, and a postdoctoral researcher at the Cluster of Excellence Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective at Freie Universität Berlin. She studied Theater, Philosophy and Arabic Literature in Leipzig and Damascus and obtained her PhD in Arabic Studies at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies at Philipps-Universität Marburg. Her work is set at the intersection of modern cultural, material and intellectual history with a focus on the Levant. Besides several essays she has published a book on the question of spectatorship in contemporary Lebanese performance art (2011), co-edited a volume on literary/artistic commitment since the 1950s (2015), and co-authored a textbook for modern Arabic literature and culture (2021). She is finalizing her second monography, an intellectual biography of the Beirut-based cultural magazine Mawaqif (1968-1994) (Brill 2023). Her current research interests address the (spatio-)temporal dimension of the modern periodical and its function in shaping other (spatio-)temporal concepts like “revolution”, “modernity”, or “exile”. Albers is also co-founder and former editor of the open-access journal Middle East – Topics and Arguments, 2011-2021. In the academic years 2021-24, she is an affiliated EUME Fellow.

Chronotopias: Revolution and the Cultural Magazine in the Arab Long Sixties

This project is pursued at a point in history in which we witness a twofold transformation: that of media, from print to digital, and that of those concepts that were used to describe or promote transformation and change during the past centuries. ‘Revolution’ has been one of the most powerful historical concepts, whose idea, form and fascination have undergone radical changes in the last decades. In light of this transformation, the project examines the crucial role that cultural magazines have played in shaping the idea, concept and practice of ‘revolution’ between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s in the Arab world. It particularly explores the way periodicals contributed to and counterpointed a Leftist project of emancipation that synchronized the Arab world with the global ‘Long Sixties’, therein enabling particular understandings of ‘revolution’ while sidelining others. The study puts emphasis on the magazine as form with an intrinsic relation to temporality: Albers conceives of the magazine as a chronotopia, i.e. a form that is structured by time while also structuring receptions of time by offering readings of a contemporary moment and by staging itself as an archive of future historiography. The project aims for a historicization and a theorization of the cultural magazine in the Arab world and its exiles, and strives to make us aware of this form’s heritage in mediatizing ‘revolutions’ in the present.