Authobiographical Identities in Contemporary Arab Culture

by Valerie Anishchenkova

This original exploration of Arab autobiographical discourse investigates various modes of cultural identity which have emerged in Arab societies in the last 40 years. During this period, autobiographical texts moved away from exemplary life narratives and toward more unorthodox techniques such as erotic memoir writing, postmodernist self-fragmentation, cinematographic self-projection and blogging. Valerie Anishchenkova argues that the Arabic autobiographical genre has evolved into a mobile, unrestricted category arming authors with narrative tools to articulate their selfhood.

Reading works from Arab nations such as Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Syria and Lebanon, Anishchenkova connects the century’s rapid political and ideological developments to increasing autobiographical experimentation in Arabic works. The immense scope of her study also forces consideration of film and online forms of self-representation and builds a new theoretical framework for these modes of autobiographical cultural production.