The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

‘Arab Theory’ and the 20th-century German Intellectual Tradition

Start Date and Time:

Friday, March 29, 2019, 12:00PM

End Date and Time:

Friday, March 29, 2019, 2:00PM


Prof. Jens Hanssen (Arab Civilization, Middle Eastern, And Mediterranean History - UofT)

What fascinated and haunted Farah Antun so much about Friedrich Nietzsche that he dedicated a series of newspaper articles to introduce this philosopher to an Arabic-speaking audience between 1906 and 1909? And what was Nietzsche’s afterlife among 20th-century Arab intellectuals? Why did Ernst Bloch find it expedient to invoke Ibn Sina in his critique of Dialectical Materialism of 1973, “Avicenna and the Aristotelian Left?”

These two sets of questions are part of a larger research project that investigates the way Critical Theory – broadly defined – was affected by 20th-century developments in the Middle East, most notably in Palestine, and how the 20th-century German intellectual tradition influenced intellectual currents across the Mediterranean. Drawing on my previous work on “Kafka and Arabs” (2012) and “Arendt and Arab political Culture” (2013), as well as colleagues’ work on the Arab Darwin (M. ElShakry, 2015), Freud (O.Elshakry, 2017), and Sartre (di Capua, 2012, 2018), I propose to read European and Arab intellectual history in one dialectical framework of cultural mobility and multidirectional translation to ask where, how and when did such diverse thinkers as Nietzsche and Bloch, among many others pass in and out of intellectual circulation in the Arab world.

We look forward to seeing you there.


  • Middle East and North Africa Studies - Ryerson University

Contact Information

Prof. F. Vejdani

Middle East and North Africa Studies


RCC 223 (Rogers Communications Centre), 80 Gould St, Toronto, ON M5B 2M7 view full map




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