Arabic Literature in a Posthuman Age


Teresa Pepe is Associate Professor in Arabic Studies and Chair of the Center of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (CIMS) at the University of Oslo. Her research interests span across Arabic literature, media, popular culture, sociolinguistics, and the relation between aesthetics and politics.

She is the author of the book Blogging From Egypt: Digital Literature, 2005-2016 (Edinburgh: EUP, 2019) which explores blogs as forms of digital literature emerging in Egypt during the rise of the political protest of the Arab Spring.  She is the co-editor of the volume Arabic Literature in a Posthuman World (with S. Guth, Harassowitz Verlag 2019), which examines the use of dystopia, necropolitics, monsters and satire in Arabic literature today. Her current research focuses on Arabic futuristic literature and its connection to social, political, and environmental changes in the region.


This talk deals with tendencies and transformations of the Arabic cultural field following the 2011 uprisings, in a period that can be defined as “posthuman”. In fact, it explores how Arab authors react to a reality that is dramatically changing since the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ and that seems to be characterized, on one hand, by technological and scientific advancement, ecological transformations, as well as a process of ‘de-humanization’, especially as political repression, wars and violence are on the rise. I illustrate how this tendency affects the work of some the authors that I have encountered during my research on blogs, such as Aḥmad Nājī, Muḥammad Rabiʿ, Nāʾil al-Ṭūkhī, ʿAlāʾ ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ. In fact, this same tech-savvy youth that had been active during the street protests in the cities of Cairo, are now either staying in prison, or living in exile, and yet continue to innovate Arabic literary production in many interesting ways, being at the forefront of the Arabic literary sphere, and translated into multiple European languages.

Image credit: artwork by Qarm Qart