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The Politics and Poetics of Ameen Rihani: The Humanist Ideology of an Arab-American Intellectual and Activist

The Politics and Poetics of Ameen Rihani: The Humanist Ideology of an Arab-American Intellectual and Activist
Nijmeh Hajjar

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The relationship between the Middle East and the West is one of the greatest issues of today and will remain so for the forseeable future. Interest in Ameen Rihani is heightened because his ideas about how the Arab world and the West relate to each other are of particular contemporary relevance. Despite the contemporary resonance and importance of Rihani and his work, no other full examination of his entire literary and political writings yet exists. Ameen Rihani was a pioneering Arab-American writer and activist, a leading figure in the development of the 'mahjar' literary movement and the most prominent Arab humanist intellectual of the twentieth century. Undertaking a comprehensive and critical reading of Rihani's Arabic and English writings, Nijmeh Hajjar examines the dialectical link between Rihani's life experiences and his ideas and activism. She explores Rihani's secular humanist vision of Arab progress, democracy and social justice, and concern for respectful relations between the Arab world and the West.

This fascinating illustration of an Arab-American encounter contributes to post-colonial discourse and provides a balancing counterpoint to the predominant ideological 'clash of civilisations' paradigms.

Author Info

Nijmeh Hajjar is a Lecturer in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Sydney.


'Dr Hajjar's text on Ameen Rihani is the first major work in any language on this leading Arab-American writer, intellectual, political activist and traveller.
[which] brings out Rihani's humanist approaches and his constant endeavours to bridge the gap, be it in the field of cultural misunderstanding or social development, between Western societies and Eastern nations
Hajjar has skillfully placed Rihani in his particular historical context, while succeeding at the same time in demonstrating the relevance of his ideas and cultural vision to contemporary issues and challenges faced by both the West and the Muslim world.'
Professor Youssef Choueiri, Islamic Studies, School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester; '

This study is a real tour de force of the thought and activism of Ameen Rihani, a prominent Arab-American intellectual of the twentieth century, and a pioneer of the modern Arab literary and intellectual renaissance. With her fine scholarship, Dr Hajjar convincingly demonstrates how Rihani's humanist outlook and intellectual activity were very much concerned with engaging both East and West
This is a particularly timely [book] in the light of the current search for global peace and cultural dialogue today. It should contribute positively to a better understanding of the difficulties, fears and hopes of our own times, and provide a shift away from the barren paradigms of 'clash of civilizations'.'
Professor Ahmad Shboul, AM, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, The University of Sydney

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781848852662
Publication Date: 29 May 2010
Number of Pages: 328
Height: 216
Width: 134

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