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Language, Memory, and Identity in the Middle East: The Case for Lebanon Hardcover – April 12, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0739137383 ISBN-10: 0739137387

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Lexington Books (April 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739137387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739137383
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,460,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

In a stunning polemic, a well-known professor of Arabic indicts the classical and modern standard forms of the language as 'a key factor in the Middle East’s turbulence, authoritarianism, intellectual torpor, cultural rigidity, and lack of freedoms.' In their stead, Franck Salameh argues for a 'linguistic humanism' that recognizes and celebrates the Middle East’s diversity of language and culture. His deeply researched and utterly original study fascinated me. (Daniel Pipes, director, Middle East Forum)

Arab nationalists, and their foreign supporters, have constructed a dominant image of a monolithic Arab world held together by modern standard Arabic. In this passionate and illuminating book of intellectual revisionism, Professor Franck Salameh goes a long way toward demolishing that myth. Underneath the official Arabic edifice, he finds another map, a world of vernacular languages more true to the cultures and identities of the region. Lebanon is his case study, but his is a broader assault. A book of great originality and considerable courage. The canon of Arab nationalism has been dealt a powerful blow. Franck Salameh’s book is one of the most searching yet of the nexus between language and identity in modern Middle Eastern life. This book deserves a wide audience, in the academy and beyond. (Fouad Ajami, The Johns Hopkins University, author of The Dream Palace of the Arabs)

Salameh argues that classical Arabic is the source of most of the conflicts in the Middle East today. (Middle East Journal)

In an intellectual and cultural climate dominated by Arabism and an ascendant Islamism and obscurely expressed by Modern Standard Arabic, Language, Memory and Identity in the Middle East: The Case for Lebanon offers a fresh perspective for better understanding the Middle East. This study not only sheds light on the complexity, plurality, diversity of the Middle East, and specifically Lebanon as a case in point, but also breaks the barrier of "Arabist" tautological scholarship which heretofore obfuscated a pellucid and honest reading of the history, peoples, and civilizations of the Middle East. (Robert Rabil, Florida Atlantic University)

Salameh's meticulous research makes for a most worthy book that makes a significant contribution to the literature. (Middle East Quarterly)

..A valuable, well-documented and rich contribution to the topic of nationalism in the Middle East," and "a seminal impulse for serious debate on ideological diversity in the contemporary Middle East, on rivals of Arab nationalism in the Arab world, and on less known linguistic nationalisms in the region. (The Journal of the Middle East and Africa)

Franck Salameh's Language, Memory, and Identity in the Middle East: The Case for Lebanon is a fascinating and important study of the diversity underlying the so-called Arab world. (H-Memory)

Important and alert us once again to the uniqueness of Lebanese history and to the fact that the struggle for Lebanon, the struggle for power in the country, as well as the struggle over who will determine the country’s identity and path, is far from concluded. (Middle Eastern Studies)

Language, Memory, and Identity in the Middle East is certainly a brilliant and erudite tour de force that offers a welcome corrective to widely held academic orthodoxies.
(Norman A. Stillman, University of Oklahoma)

Language, Memory, and Identity in the Middle East: The Case for Lebanon invites the reader to voraciously continue to turn the pages in expedition of a world rarely presented to the western audience (New Books in Anthropology)

In Language, Memory, and Identity in the Middle East: The Case for Lebanon, Franck Salameh, who teaches Arabic and Middle Eastern intellectual and cultural history at Boston College, meticulously documents a powerful counterargument to the regnant, monochromatic, Arabist paradigm….Salameh is certainly correct that Arab nationalism and its authoritarian language policies have had a noxious effect on the region and its overall encounter with modernity. It is noteworthy that he has subtitled his book The Case for Lebanon rather than The Case of Lebanon. Perhaps it is Salameh’s subtle allusion to what might have been or might yet be a more salutary cultural and social model of pluralism in that unhappy and tempestuous region. (The Middle East Book Review)

About the Author

Franck Salameh is assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies at Boston College.

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ROGER MAKHLOUF on July 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book represents the best study on modern Lebanon and the school of thought of Lebanonism. Dr. Salameh has pulled off a noteworthy feat by producing an accessible yet distictive study of the Middle-East in general and of Lebanon in particular. The book represents a breakthrough touor de force in academic research. It represents the most authoritative and up-to-date analysis of this forgotten and/or neglected group of thinkers.

Dr. Salameh's rich and personal experience adds an enjoyable details to the book. His encounter with Said Akl sheds a direct light on one of the most eloquent and charismatic intellectuals in modern Lebanon.

This book is highly recommended for the policy makers in the West, in particular in the United States, and to academics as well who share the courage of Dr. Salameh to venture into finding real -and fair- solutions to the Middle-East problems (or dilemmas?).

This book presents also a wake-up call to the Lebanese government and the various Lebanese institutions around the world; it provides a framework of necessary and much needed educational material so the Lebanese may learn again the true history of their country and be exposed to some of its greatest thinkers...
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Daley on August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The above reviews are quite reflective of my thoughts on the book. It is a very interesting look (for a non-linguist) into one view of the Arabic language and its dialects... although Salameh wouldn't call the Lebanese language a dialect. Also very clear that this is an extension of his doctoral thesis and subsequent classroom teachings. I will be very interested to see where he goes from here.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William Garrison Jr. VINE VOICE on June 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Language, Memory, and Identity in the Middle East: The Case for Lebanon" by Franck Salameh. (From M. Nisan's [partial] review in the Spring 2011 "Middle East Review"). "The essence of [the author's] thesis is that language--one rooted in the distant past and leavened with a multiplicity of more contemporary influences--continues to leave its imprint both on how the Lebanese communicate in the popular domain but also on what makes Lebanon the extraordinary human venture it is. Salameh attempts to solve this puzzle by contending that there is no "single homogenous Arab cultural mass" but a diversity of ethnicities, languages, and peoples across the Middle East... The case of Lebanon's language and its authenticity was elevated to a sacred mission by Saïd Akl, poet, linguist, and philosopher, who assumes a central role in Salameh's narrative. He paints a vivid human portrait of the great man...who, among other things, proposed a Lebanese alphabet to replace the Arabic, thus liberating the spoken language from its Arabic moorings...For Akl, that alphabet is nothing more than a Phoenician creation, so that introducing Latinized characters into Lebanon would actually be an act of cultural recovery. For most Muslims and Arabs, however, it would be a separatist rebellion and viewed as a declaration of war against the Arab world. The sub-text of the language controversy then is the struggle of a Christian community in Lebanon to survive and flourish in the Muslim Middle East that is experiencing a sweeping Islamist tidal wave....so, the debate as to whether the Lebanese are really Arabs has yet to be resolved.... Salameh's meticulous research makes for a most worthy book that makes a significant contribution to the literature...."
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