Kirsten Scheid (American University of Beirut)
Monday, 15 September 2014, 11.30 AM-01.00 PM
A discourse of “dhawq” undergirds political projects and economic exchanges on a daily basis in Lebanon. While popular analysis frequently attributes social formations to shared dhawq, sociological research rarely foregrounds this aspect of people’s intersubjective experience of sociality. The little research that takes dhawq seriously relies heavily on Pierre Bourdieu’s model of habitus, itself developed in an “Arab” context but elaborated in metropolitan France. Given the different conditions of governance, education, economy, family, and migration that accompanied the rise of dhawq in Arab, and specifically Lebanese, social intercourse in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, I pursue a historical folk understanding of the concept to extract a model of subjectivity that was formulated and practiced in connection with a notion of modernity, civic belonging, and urban ethics. I trace discussions of dhawq in the literary and scientific journals (1880-1930) and track how they were refracted in art exhibitions where visitors related their viewing experiences to their potential for civic belonging and productive use of urban space. I argue that dhawq is less about distinction than incorporation, and it is deliberately flexible for managing unprecedented social formations. I close with a methodological consideration of how to study how new art practices demanded self-consciously uncomfortable ways of looking and prepared bodies for new types of interaction, exchange, and sacrifice.
Discussant: Nadia Bou Ali (American University of Beirut)
The public lecture is part of the Summer Academy “Language, Science and Aesthetics – Articulations of Subjectivity and Objectivity in the Modern Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia”, which takes place from 11 - 19 September 2014 in Beirut.
It is jointly organized by Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) and Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin.
Find us on Google Maps