Transforming Nationhood from within the Minefield: Arab Female Guerrilla Fighters and the Politics of Peace Poetics

Citation:

Al-Samman, Hanadi. 2009. “Transforming Nationhood from within the Minefield: Arab Female Guerrilla Fighters and the Politics of Peace Poetics.” Women’s Studies International Forum 32 (5): 331–39. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2009.07.011.

Author: Hanadi Al-Samman

Abstract:

This research addresses the corpus of war narratives penned by Arab female authors in general, and Hamida Na'na', a Syrian writer in particular. In her novel The Homeland (1979), Na'na' examines the ways in which Arab female guerrilla fighters transform the concept of nationhood from a totalitarian “imagined community,” in Benedict Anderson's (1983) sense, to an all-encompassing, post-war, humanist rhetoric. The experience of the heroine as a former freedom fighter and highjacker convinces her to abandon organized patriarchal paradigms of violence that rely on the propagation of a sacred war myth, and to embrace a peace poetics model in the reconstruction of the national narrative. In the final analysis, the novel endorses post-modern, national definitions of citizenship that are built on the dialogue of words rather than guns—on the constant shifting and reshuffling of all centers of power so as to ensure equal participation of all fragmented and previously—excluded national selves including that of the feminine. The positionality, however, of this counter-feminine, national consciousness has to focus on centering itself in the homeland if it is to succeed in eliminating the hegemony of the essentialist, national narrative. Hence the insistence in this novel on homecoming, even if the first attempts are met with initial disappointments, and even if physical sacrifices leading to death have to be made. The only answer to transforming these essentialist dichotomies lies in deconstructing systematic, institutionalized patterns of violence from within, in advocating human love instead of sectarianism. This goal can only be accomplished if women act as active participants in the construction of a new, national, humanist, aural narrative, and not as voyeurs from the side-lines. Recent theories of location and nationhood such as those by Caren Kaplan (1996) are employed to frame the discussion of this novel and other related texts.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Nationalism, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes Regions: Asia, Middle East

Year: 2009

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