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Animal Nations in Libyan Fiction: Creaturely Allegories of an Uncertain State. Dr Charis Olszok

This project engages the field of Arabic literary studies with the ‘animal turn’ in the Humanities and Social Sciences, while also providing in-depth analyses of modern Libyan fiction. Through both focuses, it brings new perspectives to the study of animals in literature. Within the context of modern Libya, moving from a nomadic past, and the brutalities of colonisation, into urbanisation, oil wealth and dictatorship, it examines how animals are implicated in the building and imagining of the nation, addressing the real use and abuse of resources, and impact of modern technologies, as well as serving more abstract symbolic functions. Through authors’ frequent intertextual use of animal traditions from premodern Arabic literature and Islam, it also explores how these symbols are underpinned by cosmological, spiritual and environmental reflection, particularly grounded in folklore, the Qur’ān and Sufism. Within these intertwined perspectives, the book explores how animals allegorise human tyranny and suffering, but, in doing so, prompt reflection on the universal vulnerability of all creatures, human and nonhuman, within an uncertain world.