1. Documents, Constellations, Prospects
        2. Contributions
        Dissident Knowledges, Lecture

        Sketches for an Alternative Arab Almanac, 1989–2013

        Rasha Salti

        23 March 2013

      1. Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm’s The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914–1991 (1994), argues—most eloquently—that the twentieth century ended in 1991, 2 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square massacre, 10 years after the election of American President Ronald Reagan, and 12 years after the Iranian revolution unseated Iran’s monarchy. In the same year the First Gulf War erupted and transformed CNN into the definitive global news source. The Reagan Doctrine and its imperium effectively disabled conventional means of opposition and dissent and transmogrified the political into the moral. From Hollywood to reality TV, to the radical intelligentsia of the Left, the language of catastrophe, disaster, doomsday, and dystopia has prevailed and become commonplace. The autocracies of the Arab world have embodied the Reagan Doctrine’s most brazen successes, and produced their own version of dystopia, popularized by broadcast news networks like al-Jazeera. Under the aegis of unbridled neoliberal capital, as the political imaginary was stunted, paralyzed, or atrophied, often, contemporary artistic practice became a surrogate realm for forging dissent, articulating a just, equitable, and dignified being in the world. In addition to producing a poetics, it also produced knowledge. A dissenting, subversive knowledge that created or disclosed existing documents, made visible what was prohibited from public knowledge, articulating a counter or subversive narrative, or imagining what is politically unimaginable. Revisiting phrases, events and iconographies, and film sequences and art projects, the presentation sketches an alternative almanac to reflect on the “history” of the Arab insurgencies.