Revolution and Disenchantment

Arab Marxism and the Binds of Emancipation

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 4 illustrations Published: April 2020

Middle East Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Marxism

The Arab Revolutions that began in 2011 reignited interest in the question of theory and practice, imbuing it with a burning political urgency. In Revolution and Disenchantment Fadi A. Bardawil redescribes for our present how an earlier generation of revolutionaries, the 1960s Arab New Left, addressed this question. Bardawil excavates the long-lost archive of the Marxist organization Socialist Lebanon and its main theorist, Waddah Charara, who articulated answers in their political practice to fundamental issues confronting revolutionaries worldwide: intellectuals as vectors of revolutionary theory; political organizations as mediators of theory and praxis; and nonemancipatory attachments as impediments to revolutionary practice. Drawing on historical and ethnographic methods and moving beyond familiar reception narratives of Marxist thought in the postcolony, Bardawil engages in "fieldwork in theory" that analyzes how theory seduces intellectuals, cultivates sensibilities, and authorizes political practice. Throughout, Bardawil underscores the resonances and tensions between Arab intellectual traditions and Western critical theory and postcolonial theory, deftly placing intellectuals from those traditions into a much-needed conversation.


“Fadi A. Bardawil's Revolution and Disenchantment is at once a rich redescription and rehistoricization of the rise and fall of the Lebanese New Left, and an exemplary illustration of how to rework the problem of theory in relation to the practices of nonmetropolitan political intellectuals. With a timely attunement to the paradoxical conundrums of his present and an uncommon generosity of spirit, Bardawil challenges us to reconceive the contemporary demand for a dialogue between Arab intellectual traditions and the traditions of Western critical theory.” — David Scott, Columbia University

“Conceptually brilliant, prodigiously researched, and appealingly written, Revolution and Disenchantment tracks the theoretical innovations and political stakes of Arab revolutionary Marxism in the postwar era, contributing to timely debates about the necessity of decolonizing critical theory and the relationship between revolutionary militancy and political disenchantment. Fadi A. Bardawil's innovative archival excavation recovers the theoretical labor of Arab intellectuals, theorists, and militants from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Palestine in the midst of a multiplicity of political upheavals.” — Omnia El Shakry, author of The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Fadi A. Bardawil is Assistant Professor of Asian and Middle East Studies at Duke University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
A Note on Transliteration and Translation  ix
Prologue  xi
Introduction  1
Part I. Time of History
1. O Youth, O Arabs, O Nationalists: Recalling the High Tides of Anticolonial Pan-Arabism  27
2. Dreams of a Dual Birth: Socialist Lebanon's Theoretical Imaginary (1964–1970)  53
3. June 1967 and Its Historiographical Afterlives  82
Part II. Times of the Sociocultural
4. Paradoxes of Emancipation: Revolution and Power in Light of Mao  113
5. Exit Marx/Enter Ibn Khaldun: Wartime Disenchantment and Critique  138
6. Traveling Theory and Political Practice: Orientalism in the Age of the Islamic Revolution  165
Epilogue  187
Acknowledgments  195
Notes  201
Bibliography  241
Index  255
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0675-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0616-9
Funding Information Publication of this open monograph was the result of Duke University's participation in TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem), a collaboration of the Association of American Universities, the Association of University Presses, and the Association of Research Libraries. TOME aims to expand the reach of long-form humanities and social science scholarship including digital scholarship. Additionally, the program looks to ensure the sustainability of university press monograph publishing by supporting the highest quality scholarship and promoting a new ecology of scholarly publishing in which authors' institutions bear the publication costs. Funding from Duke University Libraries made it possible to open this publication to the world.