Here is some good and interesting work on Libya that has appeared online in the past month:
انحب نعطيكم شوية روابط لمقالات ممتعة و جيدة انتشرن ع النت في الشهر اللي فات (المرة هذي كلهن بالانجليزي).
Two studies on a type of traditional Libyan music called nawba (النوبة) appeared in 2012. The first is by a Maltese academic who conducted fieldwork in Libya and interviewed many well-known musicians (such as Hassan al-Areibi حسن العريبي).
- Ciantar, Philip. 2012. The Ma’lūf in Contemporary Libya: An Arab Andalusian Musical Tradition. London: Ashgate.
More information can be found at the publisher’s site, including the table of contents and Preface. The title translates to “المعلوف في ليبيا المعاصرة: تقليد موسيقي عربي اندلسي”. From the publisher’s description:
“The musical tradition of Ma’luf is believed to have come to North Africa with Muslim and Jewish refugees escaping the Christian reconquista of Spain between the tenth and seventeenth centuries. Although this Arab Andalusian music tradition has been studied in other parts of the region, until now, the Libyan version has not received Western scholarly attention.
This book investigates the place of this orally-transmitted music tradition in contemporary Libyan life and culture. It investigates the people that make it and the institutions that nurture it as much as the tradition itself. Patronage, music making, discourse both about life and music, history, and ideology all unite in a music tradition which looks innocent from the outside but appears quite intriguing and intricate the more one explores it.”
The second is a PhD thesis by a Libyan student at the Free University, Berlin. Both a summary in English as well as the entire PDF (in German) are available. The thesis provides a wealth of detail and analysis of individual nawba melodies and lyrics (including sheet music), but remains unpublished as far as I can tell.
- El-Ageli, Muftah Ali. 2012. Die Andalusische Nauba in Libyen: Struktur und Aufführungspraxis. Ph.D. Thesis, Freie Universität Berlin.
The title translates to “The Andalusian Nawba in Libya: structure and performance practice” and “النوبة الاندلسية في ليبيا: هيكلها و ممارسة اداءها”.
An international conference with the theme Libya in Transition. Elites, Civil Society, Factionalism, and State Reshaping will occur in Rome on June 23–24 co-sponsored by a number of institutions and organized by a committee of scholars including Prof. Anna Baldinetti, a historian of Libya. The call for papers gives the following overview:
Today’s Libya symbolizes the complexity of the transformations which have been modifying and reshaping the southern shore of the Mediterranean since 2011. The current Libyan transition, which is characterized by institutional fragility and has its own historical, political, and economic specificities is, however, part of major and wider dynamics of change that are related to more than a single Arabic country. The Conference therefore aims to discuss the process of Libyan transition from comparative perspectives.
There will be over 25 presentations over the two days, including papers by a handful of Libyan scholars. The conference program may be viewed here. About half the papers will be in French and about half in English.
At the end of last year appeared a special issue of the journal Middle East Critique dedicated to Libya and entitled “The Multiple Narratives of the Libyan Revolution” (vol 23 issue 4 2014). It was guest-edited by Matteo Capasso and Igor Cherstich, who write in their guest editors’ Note:
“…since Qadhdhafi’s oil nationalization and the gradual rapprochement of Libya with the Soviet bloc through the purchase of weapons, western media and scholarship have used ‘Qadhdhafi’ and ‘Libya’ as synonyms, reiterating an Orientalist understanding of the Middle East. Scholars, analysts, and journalists depicted the ‘Libyan head for the Libyan whole,’ to quote anthropologist John Davis, assuming that there was no ‘Libya-ness’ beyond the macro-historical meta- narrative of ‘Qadhdhafi-ness.’ The cumbersome and ubiquitous personality of Qadhdhafi obscured Libya’s complexity, and one Libyan became the symbol for all Libyans.
This habit—‘the part for the whole’—has continued even after Mu’ammar Qadhdhafi’s fall. On the one hand, the revolution of 2011 has forced analysts to realize that beyond the Libyan regime there was a Libyan society: A complex universe comprised of tribes, cities, and agents that did not necessarily identify with Qadhdhafi’s project. On the other hand, the discovery of a ‘Libyan multiplicity’ has overwhelmed the analysts who have continued to look desperately for the narrative, the key to unveil Libyan mysteries. Some writers have proposed ‘tribalism’ as the narrative to understand the revolution, others ‘Islamism’, and others, in turn, have demonstrated a fetishist attachment to the old narrative, reading the facts of 2011 simply as the end of ‘Qadhdhafi-ness.’ This Special Issue criticizes this phenomenon by demonstrating that post-revolutionary Libya cannot be understood by focusing on one story, one reading, or one aspect. Rather, it is necessary to consider a multiplicity of narratives, which collectively can be called upon to confront the problematic essentialist and Orientalist representations of the country. We deem this issue as an homage to Libya’s sophisticated intricacy, an attempt to demonstrate that we need to look for the multiple ‘parts’—rather than for ‘the part’—in order to understand the whole.”
The articles featured in this special issue are the following (accessible online with a subscription via the link above):
- Capasso, Matteo. The Libyan Drawers: ‘Stateless Society,’ ‘Humanitarian Intervention,’ ‘Logic of Exception’ and ‘Traversing the Phantasy’. 387–404.
- Cherstich, Igor. When Tribesmen do not act Tribal: Libyan Tribalism as Ideology (not as Schizophrenia). 405–421.
- Kohl, Ines. Libya’s ‘Major Minorities’. Berber, Tuareg and Tebu: Multiple Narratives of Citizenship, Language and Border Control. 423–438.
- Diana, Elvira. ‘Literary Springs’ in Libyan Literature: Contributions of Writers to the Country’s Emancipation. 439–451.
The articles are unfortunately behind a paywall (unless you have access via a university), but I’m sure the authors would be willing to share PDFs on an individual basis—so drop me a line if you’re interested.
In this post I draw attention to a defunct journal published by a Libyan research center in the UK.
The Journal of Libyan Studies was published from 2000–2003 at a rate of two issues per year (only one appeared in 2003) before folding due to low subscriptions and infrequently submitted quality content (see here for its closing note). It was produced by the Centre for Libyan Studies based in Oxford, which also has not been active recently.
Journal of Libyan Studies Vol. 1 No. 1
Since the journal is not indexed by the usual databases, I’ve taken the liberty of scanning the table of contents of all seven issues. You can find a PDF of them at this link. There are a number of articles by well-established scholars, and furthermore, every issue had a different photograph of something Libyan on its front and back covers. Although it doesn’t look like the journal can be purchased anymore, there is a complete set available to consult in the SOAS library. It is not to be confused with the long-running journal Libyan Studies published by the British Academy-based Society for Libyan Studies.
Also, at least one article published in the JLS has now become available online at academia.edu (if more are noticed, please let me know):
Nora Lafi & Denis Boucquet. Local Élites and Italian Town-Planning Procedures in Early Colonial Tripoli 1911-1912. Journal of Libyan Studies 3/1, 59–67. link.
The first volume of the novel The Confines of the Shadow, “a literary homage to Benghazi”, was released one week ago by Darf Publishers, the English-language imprint of the well-known Libyan publisher Dar el-Fergiani.
The sequence of novels and short stories takes as its subject the Italian experience in Cyrenaica. The Young Maronite (1971) discusses the 1911 war prompted by Giolitti, Omar’s Wedding(1973) narrates the ensuing truce and the attempt by the two peoples to strike a compromise before the rise of Fascism. The Nocturnal Visitor (1979) chronicles the end of the twenty-year Libyan resistance; Officers’ Tales (1967) focuses on the triumph of colonialism—albeit this having been achieved when the end of Italian hegemony already loomed in sight and the Second World War appeared inevitable—and The Psychological Comedy(1992), which ends with Italy’s retreat from Libya and the fleeing of settlers. Entry Into Babylon (1976) concentrates on Libyan independence in 1951, Cairo Nights (1986) illustrates the early years of the Senussi Monarchy and the looming spectre of Pan-Arab nationalism, while The Shore of the Lesser Life (1997) examines the profound social and political changes that occurred when large oil and gas deposits were discovered in the mid-1960s. Each text can be read independently or as part of the sequence. Either mode of reading will produce different—but equally legitimate—impressions.
The novel is translated from the Italian by André Naffis-Sahely, who has written previously (see his article in the Nation, republished in Banipal) about the process of researching and translating Spina’s opus. This is the third Libyan novel that Darf Publishers have published in translation. Read a recent interview with the publishers here.
Support Libyan literature in translation! Buy a copy from your nearest bookseller today!
[Updates!—Reviews and other news added below, as they appear.]
5 July 2015 Review by Seth Messigner at the Sultan’s Seal blog.
28 July 2015 Review by Boyd Tonkin in The Independent.
9 Sept 2015 Essay by Andre Naffis-Sahely at Words Beyond Borders.
21 Sept 2015 Interview with Andre Naffis-Sahely here at ArabLit.
1 Oct 2015 Review by Ursula Lindsey at The Nation.
Welcome to a site that I hope will become a resource for all those interested in the study of Libya, especially in fields unknown or rarely entered. Although my focus will be mainly the arts, language, literature, and history (in their broadest conceptions), I will also post about other interesting and less well-known topics pertaining to Libya.
Posts will often be bibliographic in nature, aiming to share hard-to-find or older resources as well as to draw attention to newer publications. But there will occasionally be longer posts, announcements, and other types of things. If it’s interesting, then I aim to share it.
My motivation in creating this site can be found on the ‘About’ page: in brief, because Libya is understudied and often ignored, a site which gathers existing resources and highlights new ones will, I hope, encourage, facilitate, and contribute to a growing field.
*Note: Please bear with me while I slowly build up the site—it will eventually look much better!
مرحبا في موقعٍ “مجمّع السلفيوم”، موقع اُطمح ان يكون مصدر لكل الذين يهتمون بدراسة ليبيا و خاصة بالمجالات الغير متعمق بدراستها او الغير معروفة تماماً. سوف اُركز في هذه المدونة على مجالات الفنون و اللغات و الاداب و التاريخ بصفة عامة. و لكني سوف اضيف الى مواضيع اخرى لها علاقة بليبيا.
المدونة سوف تشمل كل من ملاحظات بيبليوغرافية و مشاركة مصادر صعب العثور عليها و منشورات جديدة. و احيانا ستُجد، ايها القارئ الكريم، مقالات وكتبات طويلة. اذا وجدت اى مقالة و كتبات لها اهمية وعلاقة بالموضوع فهدفي المشاركة لأن ليبيا تعانى من قلة الدراسة و الاهتمام. اتمنى ان اُجمّع في هذه المدونة مصادر قديمة و جديدة لكي اشجع و اساهم مجالا مطوّر و متنامي.