Abdelwahab Meddeb’s “Walking Cure” and the Immigrant Body in France
This chapter examines the knot of meanings that have been attributed to the mobile Arab body and Arabic script in post-9/11 Orientalist Islamophobic fantasy. A reading of Abdelwahab Meddeb’s Talismano and Phantasia demonstrates how the body of the Arab immigrant or traveler becomes the field of battle upon which the ideological conflicts of Orientalism’s decaying discourses are played out. Meddeb’s work is analyzed in relation to Nietzsche’s revisions of the concept of decadence and the body, as well as critical frames from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Pierre Klossowski, Dina al-Kassim, Michel de Certeau, and Réda Bensmaïa. Meddeb injects Arabic and Islamic techniques of circulation into networks of power inherent within the postcolonial nation-state to enact a kind of virtual secularization, meaning a translation of Islamic cultural practices from Arabic into French. His work produces a postcolonial urbanism that conveys the overlapping chronotopes of the flâneur and the médinant (an idler in the Arab médina), leaving only the trace of an itinerary
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