Book: Voices of the Arab Spring

In Voices of the Arab Spring, edited by Asaad al-Saleh (Columbia, 2015), there are sections devoted to personal stories from the revolutions in different Arab countries. The section on Libya contains several essays:

  • My Mission in the Libyan Revolution by Mohammed Zarrug
  • Fighting Qaddafi: More Determination Than Weapons by Khairi Altarhuni
  • The Dark Night on the Tripoli Front by Abdulmonem Allieby
  • Fighting for Freedom by Ehab Ibrahim al-Khinjari
  • From School to the Battlefield by Yusef Mohamed Benruwin
  • Living Through the Libyan Uprising by Gay Emmaya Tongali
  • Benghazi, My Love by Adel el-Taguri
  • My Work in Revolutionary Libya by Annabelle Veso Faller
  • The Days of My Life by Ezedin Bosedra Abdelkafi
  • Blood for My Country by Aisha A. Nasef

Organization and Social Structure in Libyan Oases

ghadames-chart-eldblom1968
Organization of cultivated land in Ghadames (pull-out chart from Eldblom, Structure foncière, 1968).

In the late 60s, the Swedish scholar Lars Eldblom published an extremely detailed study of the socio-economic life in the three Libyan oases of Ghadames, Ghat, and Mourzouk. Since life in Libya has changed dramatically since then, his work undoubtedly documents pheno-mena of oasis life that hardly or no longer exist. It is also full of detailed maps and figures, based on painstaking research. Because of its high level of detail it certainly deserves to be better known. The book is:

Eldblom, Lars. 1968. Structure foncière. Organisation et structure sociale. Une étude comparative sur la vie socio-économique dans les trois oasis libyennes de Ghat, Mourzouk et particulièrement Ghadamès. Lund.

He also published an English summary of the book, under the following title (available freely online):

Eldblom, Lars. 1971. Land tenure – social organization and structure: a comparative sample study of the socio-economic life in the three Libyan oases of Ghat, Mourzouk and Ghadamès. Uppsala University: Nordic Africa Institute.

And finally, I have also found an earlier study of his focusing especially on irrigation in the oases of Brak, Ghadames, and Mourzouk:

Eldblom, Lars. 1961. Quelques points du vue comparatifs sur les problèmes d’irrigation dans les trois oasis Libyennes de Brâk, Ghadames et particulièrement Mourzouk. Lund (Lund Studies in Geography 22).

How Long Have You Been With Us? by Khaled Mattawa

How Long Have You Been With Us? Essays on Poetry by Khaled Mattawa has just been published by the University of Michigan Press.

“Khaled Mattawa, an American poet of Libyan origin, explores various dynamic developments shaping American poetry as it is being practiced today. Arising from an incredibly diverse range personal backgrounds, lyric traditions, and even languages, American poetry is transforming into a truly international form. Mattawa, who also translates Arabic poetry into American English and American poetry into Arabic, explores the poetics and politics of cross-cultural exchange and literary translation that fostered such transformation. The essays in this collection also shed light on Mattawa’s development as a poet and provide numerous portraits of the poets who helped shaped his poetry.”

Libia 1911-1912: Immaginari coloniali e italianità

Gabriele Proglio, Libia 1911-1912: Immaginari coloniali e italianità, Mondadori (2016).

From the publisher: “L’Italia va alla guerra per conquistare il suo ‘posto al sole’ senza realmente sapere cosa troverà sull’altra sponda del Mediterraneo. Il volume analizza la propaganda coloniale e, in particolare, la stretta relazione tra la costruzione narrativa della colonia libica e le trasformazioni dell’italianità. All’iniziale studio degli immaginari sulla Libia precedenti il 1911, segue una disamina di quelle voci che si mobilitarono a favore della guerra, partendo dai nazionalisti di Enrico Corradini con i riferimenti all’Impero romano, al Risorgimento, al mito della ‘terra promessa’. L’archivio coloniale è indagato anche attraverso lo studio delle omelie funebri per i soldati caduti durante la guerra, con immagini che vanno dal buon soldato al figlio della patria. Un altro campo d’analisi è quello dell’infanzia: i discorsi dei docenti sul conflitto, del «Corriere dei Piccoli» e della letteratura per ragazzi lavorano per «costruire» i corpi dei piccoli italiani. Non manca, infine, lo studio della letteratura interventista: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Giovanni Pascoli, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Matilde Serao, Ezio Maria Gray, Umberto Saba, Ada Negri, Giuseppe Bevione.”

Libyan Twilight: The Story of an Arab Jew

Darf Publishers has recently released the memoir of Raphael Luzon, a member of the Jewish community of Benghazi, entitled Libyan Twilight: The story of an Arab Jew. Luzon is also the co-author of an Arabic collection of interviews with members of the Libyan Jewish community, entitled سالتهم فتحدثوا: دراسة حول يهود ليبيا (I asked, and they answered: A study about Libyan Jews). From the publisher’s blurb:

Libyan Twilight is a short memoir that discusses the forgotten Jewish community of Libya. As a child growing up in Benghazi, Raphael Luzon experienced the pogrom that followed the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The Libyan Jews were forced to abandon their homeland and seek refuge overseas as a result.

The narrative jumps between the present and past, starting in 2012 where Raphael finds himself in a jail cell in post-revolution Libya amidst political chaos. He rewinds 45 years to a time when Libya was his home, just before the Muslim community ousted the ‘Arab Jews’. They spoke in a Libyan dialect of Arabic and had been rooted in North Africa since the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem in 586 BC right up until 1967.

Left with no choice, the Libyan Jews were forced to flee Benghazi and find settlement elsewhere, leaving a rich culture behind in Saharan sands. Luzon tells the story with an air of dignity rather than resentment. He opens the lid on a box of memories that reflect on the repercussions he and his community experienced over the last 50 years. As a memoir of exile, Libyan Twilight bursts with nostalgia and gives voice to a forgotten tragedy.

Shackled to his Libyan heritage, Luzon relives his life in Italy, Israel and London through a series of charming anecdotes. Sentiments aside, Libyan Twilight is about a man’s quest for justice. On a self-assigned mission, Luzon strives for closure on the deaths of his family in Tripoli during the pogrom. Nobody was convicted, nor were they granted a funeral. Luzon’s honorary pursuit for redemption places revenge aside, as he sets out to achieve a trial, a conviction and a funeral for the lost Libyan Jews.”

The book can be ordered directly from Darf Publishers.

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.