Precursors of the Arab spring: a study of in the country of men, autumn quail, memory in the flesh and the Earthquake

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The ‘Arab Spring’ is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world (North Africa and the Middle East) that began on Saturday, 18 th December, 2010. The movement originated in Tunisia and quickly took hold in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon and Iraq. To date, political rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. This thesis discusses the causes of the ‘Arab Spring’ as we are currently witnessing it, and aims to draw a correlation between these causes and the preoccupation of selected works of some North African writers. The current causes of the ‘Arab Spring’ are not new. They have existed since time immemorial. What we are currently witnessing is only a culmination and outburst of pent up emotions; emotions which have been held back for decades by members of most Arab societies. The works of four North African writers have been discussed to show that these writers have, previously in their various works, discussed issues affecting the masses of most Arab societies which, if they were given the needed attention and consideration, would not have brought us to the current state of unrest within most North African and Middle Eastern countries. In other words, Hisham Matar in In the Country of Men, Naguib Mahfouz in Autumn Quail, Ahlam Mosteghanemi in Memory in the Flesh, and Tahir Wattar in The Earthquake, give insights into the dissatisfaction of Arab peoples at the treatment meted out to them by their various governments as well as the poor conditions of life they live under in their own countries while a few minority groups continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the majority population. The works under study discuss a number of issues that underpin the causes of the on-going ‘Arab Spring.’ Issues such as dictatorship or absolute monarchy, human rights violations, government corruption, economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty, and a number of demographic factors, such as a large percentage of educated but dissatisfied youth within the population have been extensively discussed. Literature therefore has been put to mimetic use by the writers whose works are under study. These writers, through the use of literary and linguistic devices like symbolism, description, rhetorical questions, allegory and comparison, provide a vivid picture of what is going on in most Arab societies. In the end these literary works provide evidence of the rich corpus of Arabic literature which for decades has not been given due recognition like its counterparts in Europe and America.
A dissertation submitted to the Department of English, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy (English) degree.