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      Patriarchy, Subordination, and Rise of the Individual in Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men

      Arab Studies Quarterly
      Pluto Journals
      Matar, individualism, collectivism, authoritarianism, patriarchy, subordination


            This article examines the narrative of resistance to social subordination and the manipulated notions of faithfulness and treason in Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men (2006) observed through the lens of the child narrator, 9-year-old Suleiman, who grows critical of the patriarchy and power hierarchy of Libyan society's private and public spheres. In the private sphere, his mother's retelling of her forced marriage at a young age informs his initial aversion of patriarchy. In the public sphere, the Revolutionary Committee's policing and suppression of dissent, and the neighbor's public execution amid a cheering crowd, shed light on the dynamics of subservience and divisiveness. Though the novel takes place in 1979 Libya, it raises questions on the possibility of individual agency and rise of the citizen against a post-colonial Arab despotic regime, where patriarchal authoritarianism, rooted in colonialism, creates a system of dependency and subjugation that undermines citizens' power and manipulates faith as a medium of submissiveness. This article concludes with some reflections on the outcomes of 2011 Arab uprisings with regards to active citizenship.


            Author and article information

            Arab Studies Quarterly
            Pluto Journals
            1 October 2021
            : 43
            : 4 ( doiID: 10.13169/arabstudquar.43.issue-4 )
            : 333-348
            © 2021 The Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

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            Social & Behavioral Sciences


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