Christopher Wise (English) edits new book 'Being Arab'

Christopher Wise (English) is editor of a new book scheduled to be released on Dec. 15.

The book includes an essay by WWU graduate student Matt Atwood, who graduated with his M.A. in English last year. Atwood wrote the essay on Azmi Bishara for an independent study he took from Wise.

The book also includes an essay from former WWU faculty member Fallou Ngom, a faculty member at WWU when the project was first started who then took a job at Boston University.

There are three contributions from Wise, in addition to the fact that he's the book editor:

  • An introductory essay called "Arabism Now."
  • An interview titled "Arab Nationalism After Iraq."
  • An essay titled "Arabism and Jihad in the Sahel."

The book also includes contributions from well known figures such Ali Mazrui, Ella Shohat, Diana Abu Jaber and Mona Saudi. It will be released by Arena Publishing. In addition to being released as a book, it also will be released as a special double issue of the journal "Arena Journal," where Wise has been a contributing editor since 1994. Arena is based in Australia.

This is the third book Wise has published this year. The other two were "The Yambo Ouologuem Reader" (Africa World Press), which Wise edited and translated, and "Derrida, Africa, and the Middle East" (Palgrave MacMillan).

From the book description:

Being Arab appears at a time of unprecedented historical crisis for nonsectarian Arabist thought and social movements. Events of the last decade, especially the US-led occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, have drawn many analysts to conclude that the era of Arab identity politics has passed. Some even assert that the ‘defunct’ category of ‘the Arab’ was little more than an ideological tool of Western imperial powers, one that never served the interests of the peoples of the Middle East and Africa.

This volume rejects the assumption that the dream of a strong, unified Arab world was never more than a fantasy of out-of-touch academics, nor little more than a crude instrument of Arab elites and Western imperialists. It is clear that the embattled concept of ‘the Arab’ urgently requires investigation, analysis and rethinking. Some commentators even suggest that the resurrection of ‘the Arab’ and political Arabism is the pre-eminent issue.

The theme of the historical meaning of Arab identity is pursued in this book in the hope of making a modest contribution towards strengthening viable, non-sectarian and democratic alternatives to Islamist fundamentalism in the Arab world. The question of what it means ‘to be Arab’ is deliberately oriented towards the future, while remaining attentive to the setbacks of the past.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 3:43pm