The Ibadite Mosques of Jabal Nafusa | الجوامع الاباضية في جبل نفوسة

The newest publication of the Society for Libyan Studies’ monograph series is a much-anticipated study of the Ibadite mosques in the Nafusa mountains of western Libya by Virginie Prevost, a scholar of the Ibadites in North Africa.

Virginie Prevost (2016) Les mosquées ibadites du Djebel Nafūsa: Architecture, histoire et religions du nord-ouest de la Libye (VIIe-XIIIe siècle). [The Ibadite Mosques of the Jabal Nafūsa: Architecture, history and religion of North West Libya (7th-13th centuries)]. London.

From the publisher’s description: “The mosques of the Djebel Nafūsa, little known and under threat, personify the continuity of traditions and faith of the Ibadites, who have retained their grip over the centuries on this rugged landscape, despite their many trials and tribulations. This book is the result of a mission carried out in 2010 with the photographer Axel Derriks and examines twenty or so mosques, bringing to light their architectural features and linking them to medieval Ibadite texts.” The book features over 150 full-color photographs, maps, and plans.

La transformation administrative des espaces septentrionaux Libyens

With apologies for the long silence on this blog, we get back on track with this article:

Tomaso Palmieri, “La transformation administrative des espaces septentrionaux Libyens au lendemain de la répression de l’Italie fasciste (1934-1940)” [The administrative transformation of the northern Libyan spaces on the eve of the fascist Italian repression], In Le rôle des villes littorales du Maghreb dans l’histoire, RM2E – Revue de la Méditerranée édition électronique 3/1 (2016), pp. 101–114.

Happily, the article (in French) is freely available online at the following link: http://www.revuedelamediterranee.org/index_htm_files/Palmieri_2016-III-1.pdf

Benghazi Through the Ages | بنغازي عبر التاريخ

The Libyan historian Hadi Bulugma produced a series of books in Arabic on the history of Benghazi entitled بنغازي عبر التاريخ. He also made an abbreviated English version, the first volume of which (I am not sure that the second and third volumes were ever finished) concentrates on the geography and geographical history of the city. Here is a PDF of the book.

Bulugma, Hadi. 1968. Benghazi through the Ages. Volume I. Dar Maktabat al-Fikr, Tripoli.

A Bibliography of Libyan Sociologists

As a research aid, the Libyan sociologist Mustafa al-Tir (مصتفى عمر التير) published a bilingual English-Arabic bio-bibliography of sociologists and anthropologists in Libya in the early 1980s. In it, he writes:

“Producing bibliographies and indexes, whether general or specialised, is an important concern of those organising or propagating knowledge in society…Bibliographies and indexes are, of course, essential for the development of scientific research…

I have noticed on more than one occasion that many Libyan planners and scholars ignore sociological studies which have been carried out in their own society…and that some planners seek the help of specialised experts in social sciences from abroad while native experts, no less competent and probably much more so, because of their knowledge of the language, values and systems of this society, are available…The wrong lies in their complete negligence of the works of their native colleagues.

I believe that the negligence on the part of many students, planners and specialists of the works of Libyan researchers in social sciences is due, partly at least, to their failure to recognise the availability of local experience and their ignorance of the works of Libyan researchers.”

Attir, Mustafa O. 1980(?). The Libyan Sociologists, anthropologists and social works and their scientific research. Arab Development Institute: Tripoli.

 مصتفى عمر التير. 1980. المتخصصون الليبيون في علوم الاجتماع و الانسان و الخدمة الاجتماعية و نشاطهم العلمي. معهد الانماء العربي: طرابلس

A PDF of the work can be found here.

Libyan Fairytales | خراريف ليبية

Perhaps the only such collection to be published in Libya in recent years, خراريف ليبية (Libyan Fairytales) is an anthology of fairytales collected in the Jabal Akhdar region of eastern Libya by the folklorist and short-story writer Ahmad Yusuf ‘Agila.

The book presents thirty-four fairytales, many of which— such as ام بسيسي or نقارش or عويشة بنت السلطان—are well-known to Libyans. ‘Agila also includes a lexicon of the more unusual words used in the tales; some are truly uncommon, while some (such as شرز for سرج ‘saddle’) are simply the local pronunciation of a common word.

Many younger-generation Libyans, or those who grew up in the diaspora, may not have heard many fairytales as children. This book is particularly useful for those groups, who may want to familiarize themselves with the tales their parents grew up hearing but no longer remember. Also, because ‘Agila attempts to render the eastern Libyan dialect as accurately as possible, the tales can be read aloud to friends and family members—thus keeping at least some Libyan fairytales alive.

‘Agila’s introduction to the book, as well as samples of some of the fairytales can be found at this link.

Attrition and revival in Awjila Berber

Marijn van Putten & Lameen Souag, “Attrition and revival in Awjila Berber”, Corpus 14 (2015), pp. 23-58.

Abstract: Awjila Berber is a highly endangered Berber variety spoken in the East of Libya. Only minimal material is available on the language. This is unfortunate, as that material reveals that the language is in some respects very archaic and in others grammatically unique, and as such is of particular comparative and historical interest. Fieldwork has been impossible for decades due to the political situation, leading to uncertainty about whether the language was even still spoken. With the rising popularity of Facebook, however, more and more Berber speakers are taking to Facebook to converse in their own language. Several inhabitants of Awjila have accordingly set up a Facebook page Ašal=ənnax “our village” where they communicate with one another in the Awjila language. The authors have collected a corpus of the conversations on this Facebook page, which have been transcribed and translated. Analysis of this corpus adds substantially to our knowledge of Awjili and its situation. The posters’ discussion of their motivations for using the language cast light on the language’s prospects for survival, while the posts themselves yield many previously unattested words. At the same time, the corpus provides a case study in language contact. Examination of the grammatical and lexical features of this “Facebook-Awjili” language reveals that these speakers’ usage is heavily influenced by Arabic, showing extensive language attrition absent from earlier data. The resulting constructions show parallels with other contact-heavy varieties, notably Siwi. In both respects, this study casts light upon the uses and limits of social media as a source of linguistic material.

The article is not yet available online, only in the print version, but we will link to a PDF as soon as one is available.

Poetry of Khaled Mattawa | دواوين شعر خالد مطاوع

Khaled Mattawa is a renowned Libyan-American poet, in addition to being a prolific translator of Arabic poetry into English and scholar of Arabic literature. He is a member of the American Academy of Poets and was recently in the news for being named a recipient of the MacArthur “genius grant” fellowship. Mattawa has published four books of his poetry in English:

Tocqueville (2010)

Amorisco (2008)

Zodiac of Echoes (2003)

Ismailia Eclipse (1995)

In the aftermath of killing of Libya’s former dictator, he wrote the  poem, “After 42 Years”. You can listen to him reading it here.