Arabic and the Paradigms of Comparison
The study of Arabic in the age of globalization and terrorism has been subject to two logics: one that sees Arabic as an extension of foreign policy imperatives (an instrumentalist “language plus” approach), and one that broadens the scope of the discipline. The current boom in Arabic studies is largely driven by the instrumentalist imperative. The study of modern Arabic literature within Comparative Literature in the “ages” of multiculturalism and globalization has remained by and large confined to the North-South paradigm, as a small subset of the postcolonial, and studied mainly in relation to English and French. Postcolonial studies has thus had the paradoxical effect of creating a space for Arabic, African, Caribbean, and South Asian literatures by tying them to the center-periphery, or North-South paradigm. The enormously rich area of South-South comparison remains largely unexplored.