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The Postcolonial ContemporaryPolitical Imaginaries for the Global Present$
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Jini Kim Watson and Gary Wilder

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823280063

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823280063.001.0001

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The Postcolonial Avant-Garde and the Claim to Futurity: Edwar al-Kharrat’s Ethics of Tentative Innovation

The Postcolonial Avant-Garde and the Claim to Futurity: Edwar al-Kharrat’s Ethics of Tentative Innovation

Chapter:
(p.147) Six: The Postcolonial Avant-Garde and the Claim to Futurity: Edwar al-Kharrat’s Ethics of Tentative Innovation
Source:
The Postcolonial Contemporary
Author(s):

Adam Spanos

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823280063.003.0007

This chapter delinks the avant-garde from the contingent cultural expressions of imperialism prevalent at the time of its emergence in Europe and speculates on the possibility of an avant-garde not aggrandized by foreign domination. Like his Surrealist counterparts in the West, Egyptian writer Edwar al-Kharrat aimed to produce total social change by means of obscure rather than didactic references. He did so not to shock his compatriots out of bourgeois complacency, however, but to stimulate them to more autonomous thinking about the history of their subjection to neocolonial and dictatorial forms of authority. Al-Kharrat arranged a literary mosaic comprising scenes of transhistorical suffering without causal narrative, leaving readers to produce a representation of historical time adequate to understanding them. Al-Kharrat’s work suggests the terms of an avant-garde relying on humility rather than egoism for its effect, and mobilizing anachronism rather than

Keywords:   anachronism, avant-garde, dictatorship, Egypt, imperialism, obscurity, Surrealism

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