"Politics of Historical Fiction and Sectarian Conflict in Egypt: Debates around Azazeel"

Public Lectures Spring/Summer 2013

  • Datum: 25.04.2013
  • Uhrzeit: 14:00 - 15:30
  • Vortragende: Saba Mahmood (University of California, Berkeley / presently American Academy in Berlin)
  • Saba Mahmood is an associate professor of social cultural anthro­pology at the University of California Berkeley. She was awarded the 2013 Axel Springer Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. Saba Mahmood’s research interests lie in exploring historically specific articulations of secular modernity in postcolonial societies, with particular attention to issues of subject formation, religio­sity, embodiment, and gender. Currently she is examining secular-liberal interpretations of Islam in the context of the Middle East and South Asia.
  • Ort: MPI-MMG, Hermann-Föge-Weg 11, Göttingen
  • Raum: Library Hall
"Politics of Historical Fiction and Sectarian Conflict in Egypt: Debates around Azazeel"

For more details please contact buethe(at)mmg.mpg.de.

Based on fourth century Christological debates and the travels of an Egyptian monk, the Arabic novel “Azazeel” was accused of defaming Christianity and fomenting Christian-Muslim sectarian strife in Egypt by the Coptic Orthodox Church. It is customary to diagnose religious protests of this kind against literary works as a clash between religious proscription and the right to freedom of expression. This way of casting the debate fails to comprehend the complex stakes such novels mobilize, eliding substantive disagreements about what it means to read a work of fiction and by whom. Through a careful reading of the novel and the response it elicited from the church as well as the Christological controversy on which the novel is based, this talk forces us to reconsider what it means to claim the autonomy of literature from history; to cast religion as a human invention; and to ponder the humanity of Christ.

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