The Environmental Politics of Abdul Rahman Munif

Episode 414

hosted by Chris Gratien and Rebecca Alemayehu

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Abdul Rahman Munif is one of the most celebrated authors in the Arabic language. In this episode, we sit down with literature scholar Suja Sawafta to learn about the social and political experiences that shaped Munif as an author, and in particular, we explore the role of the environment in some his most important works such as Cities of Salt. We discuss why Munif's politics led him to literature, and we explore how through his fiction writing, Munif provides a vivid account and critique of the history of oil and its impact in the Middle East.

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Contributor Bios

Suja Sawafta is a DPhil Candidate in Modern Arabic Literature at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford and Visiting Lecturer of Modern Arabic Literature at the University of Virginia. She holds an M.A. in Franco-Arab Studies from UNC Chapel Hill and a joint Graduate Certificate in Middle East Studies from Duke and UNC. Her research on Munif lies at the intersection of exile, intellectual commitment, political dissent, and post-colonial studies.
Chris Gratien is Assistant Professor of History at University of Virginia, where he teaches classes on global environmental history and the Middle East. He is currently preparing a monograph about the environmental history of the Cilicia region of the former Ottoman Empire from the 1850s until the 1950s.
Rebecca Alemayehu is a rising third year from Houston, Texas at the University of Virginia . She is studying Political and Social Thought with plans to pursue law school post-graduation.


Episode No. 414
Release Date: 14 June 2019
Recording Location: University of Virginia
Audio editing by Chris Gratien
Music: Zé Trigueiros
Bibliography courtesy of Suja Sawafta

Select Bibliography

Works in English translation:

Cities of Salt (Cities of Salt Trilogy, Vol 1), New York: Vintage Books. 1987

The Trench (Cities of Salt Trilogy, Vol 2), New York: Vintage Books. 1991

Variations on Night and Day (Cities of Salt Trilogy, Vol 3), New York: Vintage Books.  1993

Endings, London: Quartet Books. 1988

Story of a City: A Childhood in Amman, London: Quartet Books. 1988

Select Works of Fiction in Arabic:

The Trees and Marzuq’s Assasination (Al-ashjar wa-ghtyal Marzuq الأشجار واغتيال مرزوق), Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr. 1973

A Magian Love Story (Qissat hubb majusiyya قصّة حبّ مجوسية), Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr 1974

East of the Mediterranean ( Sharq al-Mutawassit  شرق المتوسّط ), Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr. 1975

When We Left the Bridge (Hina tarakna al-jisr حين تركنا الجسر ), Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr. 1976

Long Distance Race (Sibaq al-masafat at-tawila سباق المسافات الطويلة ), Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr. 1979

Munif, Abdul Rahman & Jabra Ibrahim Jabra.  A World Without Maps, (Alam bi-la kharait عالم بلا خرائط ), Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr. 1982

Select Works of Non-Fiction in Arabic:

The Writer and Exile (Al-katib wal-manfa – Humum wa-afaq ar-riwaya al-arabiyya) Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr. 1992

Democracy Now, Democracy Always, ( Ad-dimuqratiyya awwilan ad-dimuqratiyya daiman الديمقراطية أوّلاً الديمقراطية دائماً )Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr. 1992

Journey of Light, (Rihlat daw رحلة ضوء ), Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr. 2001


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