Disruptive Situations challenges representations of contemporary Beirut as an exceptional space for LGBTQ people by highlighting everyday life in a city where violence is the norm. Ghassan Moussawi, a Beirut native, seeks to uncover the underlying processes of what he calls “fractal orientalism,” a relational understanding of modernity and cosmopolitanism that illustrates how transnational discourses of national and sexual exceptionalism operate on multiple scales in the Arab world.
Moussawi’s intrepid ethnography features the voices of women, gay men and genderqueers in Beirut to examine how queer individuals negotiate life in this uncertain region. He examines “al-wad’,” or “the situation,” to understand the practices that form these strategies and to raise questions about queer-friendly spaces in and beyond Beirut.
Disruptive Situations alsoshows how LGBTQ Beirutis resist reconciliation narratives and position their identities and visibility at different times as ways of simultaneously managing their multiple positionalities and al-wad’. Moussawi argues that the daily survival strategies in Beirut are queer—and not only enacted by LGBTQ people—since Beirutis are living amidst an already queer situation of ongoing precarity.
Fifteen years after the end of a protracted civil and regional war, Beirut broke out in violence once again, forcing residents to contend with many forms of insecurity, amid an often violent political and economic landscape. Providing a picture of what ordinary life is like for urban dwellers surviving sectarian violence, The Insecure City captures the day-to-day experiences of citizens of Beirut moving through a war-torn landscape.
While living in Beirut, Kristin Monroe conducted interviews with a diverse group of residents of the city. She found that when people spoke about getting around in Beirut, they were also expressing larger concerns about social, political, and economic life. It was not only violence that threatened Beirut’s ordinary residents, but also class dynamics that made life even more precarious. For instance, the installation of checkpoints and the rerouting of traffic—set up for the security of the elite—forced the less fortunate to alter their lives in ways that made them more at risk. Similarly, the ability to pass through security blockades often had to do with an individual’s visible markers of class, such as clothing, hairstyle, and type of car. Monroe examines how understandings and practices of spatial mobility in the city reflect social differences, and how such experiences led residents to be bitterly critical of their government.
In The Insecure City, Monroe takes urban anthropology in a new and meaningful direction, discussing traffic in the Middle East to show that when people move through Beirut they are experiencing the intersection of citizen and state, of the more and less privileged, and, in general, the city’s politically polarized geography.
Toward Translingual Realities in Composition is a multiyear critical ethnographic study of first-year writing programs in Lebanon and Washington State—a country where English is not the sole language of instruction and a state in which English is entirely dominant—to examine the multiple and often contradictory natures, forces, and manifestations of language ideologies. The book is a practical, useful way of seriously engaging with alternative ways of thinking, doing, and learning academic English literacies.
Translingualism work has concentrated on critiquing monolingual and multilingual notions of language, but it is only beginning to examine translingual enactments in writing programs and classrooms. Focusing on language representations and practices at both the macro and micro levels, author Nancy Bou Ayash places the study and teaching of university-level writing in the context of the globalization and pluralization of English(es) and other languages. Individual chapters feature various studies that Bou Ayash brings together to address how students act as agents in marshaling their language practices and resources and shows a deliberate translingual intervention that complicates and enriches students’ assumptions about language and writing. Her findings about writing programs, instructors, and students are detailed, multidimensional, and complex.
A substantial contribution to growing translingual scholarship in the field of composition studies, Toward Translingual Realities in Composition offers insights into how writing teacher-scholars and writing program administrators can more productively intervene in local postmonolingual tensions and contradictions at the level of language representations and practices through actively and persistently reworking the design and enactment of their curricula, pedagogies, assessments, teacher training programs, and campus-wide partnerships.