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Existentialism, Sartre and Decolonization in the Middle East

9.5.2018 17:00

A talk by Yoav Di Capua (University of Texas, Austin) with a roundtable follow-up will take place at the Czech Academy of Sciences (Národní 3, Praha 1) in room 108 on Wednesday  May 9 at 5 PM. Details here.


It is a curious and relatively little-known fact that for two decades—from the end of World War II until the late 1960s—existentialism’s most fertile ground outside of Europe was in the Middle East, and Jean-Paul Sartre was the Arab intelligentsia’s uncontested champion. In the Arab world, neither before nor since has another Western intellectual been so widely translated, debated, and celebrated. By closely following the remarkable career of Arab existentialism, Yoav Di-Capua reconstructs the cosmopolitan milieu of the generation that tried to articulate a political and philosophical vision for an egalitarian postcolonial world. He tells this story by touring a fascinating selection of Arabic and Hebrew archives, including unpublished diaries and interviews. His talk, based on his recently published book "No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Decolonization", will be followed by a round-table aiming to shed the light on the phenomena of existentialism from the perspective of other geographical and ideological experiences that responded to various degrees to the decolonization movement, namely Japan, India and Islamism.