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Spectres of Revolution: The Spectral Politics of Resistance in Sonallah Ibrahim's "Warda"
Sonallah Ibrahim’s 'Warda' builds itself, rather paradoxically, around the titular character’s absence from within the space of the textual world, making her a spectre within the text. This paper uses Derrida’s Hauntology as a key hermeneutical tool in analyzing Ibrahim’s employment of a spectre-protagonist to not just haunt the readers and “demand a response” in the process, but also to trace history with a desire to understand the present as it frames the possibilities for the future, thereby contextualizing violence within the history/ies of colonial oppression. The spectral disruption of chronology allows Ibrahim to build a disjointed narrative that shuttles back and forth in time, the effect of which is further highlighted by the epistolary form he utilizes in the form of Warda’s diary entries. Demonstrating that historical narratives do not necessarily remain faithful to historical processes, Ibrahim underscores the idea of a discrepancy between recorded history and memory, making the motif of remembering and forgetting recur throughout the novel. The doubling of histories and stories – through both the style and structure of the novel – also allows him to question as well as transcend the categories of history and fiction, raising pertinent questions about historiography as well. The paper shall demonstrate how the interweaving of history and fiction also makes an attempt to accord to the novel a function similar to what Warda’s journal fulfills- that of a ‘subaltern’ historical discourse that not just narrativizes the anti-colonial resistance of the Dhofar revolutionaries but enacts a resistance of its own in doing so.
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