The Question of Judeo-Arabic: Nation, Partition, and the Linguistic Imaginary

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  Thursday, April 19, 2018
  5 - 6:30 p.m.
  Stephens Hall
  Ella Shohat, New York University

Professor Ella Shohat, 2018 CMES Distinguished Visitor, will deliver a lecture on "The Question of Judeo-Arabic: Nation, Partition, and the Linguistic Imaginary."

This lecture examines linguistic belonging as invented within national and colonial itineraries. More specifically, it explores the genealogy of the concept of “Judeo-Arabic language” and its axiomatic definition as a cohesive (specifically Jewish) unit separate from Arabic, and classifiable under the historically novel rubric of isolatable “Jewish languages” severed from their neighboring dialect/languages. Does the notion of “Judeo-Arabic” correspond to the designation by the speakers of that language themselves or rather to a paradigm influenced by post-Enlightenment Judaic studies and Jewish nationalism? And in the wake of the colonial partition of Palestine / Israel and the displacement from Arabic-speaking cultural geographies, how should we regard the salvage project for an “endangered Judeo-Arabic?” What are the phantasmatic aspects of a conceptual framework that has left a linguistic practice both rejected and desired?

Prof. Shohat teaches at the departments of Art & Public Policy and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies at New York University. She has lectured and written extensively on issues having to do with post/colonial and transnational approaches to Cultural studies. Her writing has been translated into diverse languages, including: French, Hebrew, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, and Turkish, Shohat has also served on the editorial board of several journals, including: Social Text; Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies; Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism; and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. She is a recipient of such fellowships as Rockefeller Foundation, Fulbright Lectureship / Research, and the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, where she also taught at The School of Criticism and Theory.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314


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