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Dr Nora Parr (SOAS, London) presents "How do you say 'trauma' in Arabic? When critical terms cross uneven contexts"

Part of the IAIS Visiting Speaker Series

Nora Parr is OWRI/AHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Creative Multilingualism’s Strand 5 on World Literature. She teaches Arabic Literature and Palestine Studies at SOAS, University of London.

Event details


'Trauma' as both word and concept came into its current (dominant) meaning in Interwar Europe and was honed in Post-Vietnam United States.  There, and then, 'trauma' came to mean a 'shock', something 'unspeakable', and 'other' to the everyday (LaCapra).  However, in the Arab World the experience of violence has its own past and its own cultural touchstones.  To understand 'trauma' in the Arab-world context, does the word 'trauma' suffice?  This talk explores the assumptions of trauma theory, and the limits that these assumptions (about trauma as an 'event', about silence as an eloquent and touching way to render the experience of violence, and the norms of chronology) place on the possibility of imagining trauma differently.  It then looks at some examples of Palestianian literature on and around the Nakba, the Lebanese Civil War, and the 'Spring' of Egypt.  Analysis of texts shows that learning how to say trauma in Arabic is not so much about finding the right word, but recognising the cultural weight and power structures that words carry with them when they travel across uneven contexts.

She co-founded the web-Hub, and is finalising a monograph titled 'Nation Constellation', on Palestinian literature and the imagination of a non-sovereign non-linear nation.

Tea and coffee will be served from 17:00 in the IAIS Common Room.  All are welcome to attend and registration is not required.

Dr Nora Parr


IAIS Building/LT1/2