Transcultural libanité in Amin Maalouf’s Origines


This article critically engages with Amin Maalouf’s novel Origines (2004). By drawing implicitly on Mikhail Epstein’s theory of transculture, I intend to explore the libanité paradigm, and to examine how it shapes the view of the Lebanese subject towards the West. By libanité, I refer to the religious and political elements that are central in defining Lebanese ethnic identity.  I argue that within the Lebanese context, the transcultural process is not limited to immigrant characters who live in the West, but also it emerges in subjects who decide not to leave their homeland. What distinguishes this paper is its analysis of the relaxed, nomadic attitude adopted by characters when faced with issues linked to cultural allegiance. They appear to be ‘in place’ and ‘out of place’ whether they stay in Lebanon or decide to be geographically dislocated to a Western country. Furthermore, the main country of destination discussed in this novel is Cuba, which history has been mainly examined on the experiences of the Atlantic Slave Trade, and its impact on the Caribbean society. In terms of migration, therefore, very little investigation exists on the early 20th century Arab migration into Cuba. Maalouf’s Origines gives voice to Arabs to speak about their experience with the new island. On a larger scale, this introduces a new dimension to the study of minority communities from Muslim-majority Eastern regions who reside in the Caribbean societies today. This is a salient issue in the islands to develop further their cultural diversity. 

Keywords: Identity, Migration, history, maalouf, transculture

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 40-50 (Download PDF)

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