Rimbaud's House in Aden, Yemen: Giving Voice(s) to the Silent Poet

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Essay Excerpt

In this article, I investigate the reproduction of East-West relations through discursive and spatial practices. I focus on a specific moment in this complex and multidirectional reproductive process, wherein the "Adeni Rimbaud" is the locus and French and non-Yemeni Arab poets-and later the French and Yemeni governments-are the agents. It is a moment of bestowing a purified image upon the colonial past by reinventing Rimbaud's hybrid identity and representing his house as a site for East-West cultural dialogue. Unlike orientalism, which, as Edward Said convincingly argues,"is based upon distinction made between the Orient and the Occident" (1979:2-3), and the setting of the self against the other, the discourse of Rimbaud's House claims its premise in cultural hybridity and dialogue and in poetry as a universal cultural value. It is not just the Occident imagining the Orient but, rather, are imagining of both-a construction of shared history and geography whereby national boundaries are blurred and national times blend. It draws on-and creates its own-fantasies, myths, dreams,and fictions, masking Western hegemony over the East and legitimizing it. The mystification of Rimbaud and the obsession of French and Arab poets in tracking the myth in Aden situate the emerging relations of hegemony within the context of poetry.4 In Yemen, poetry is a key, culturally valued discursive domain that suffuses everyday practices, especially political ones. Rimbaud's House is likewise politicized and, consequently, debated and contested. (Tamarian, 465-466)

About the Author

Lucine Taminian is a senior researcher in residence at The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq, based in Amman, Jordan. She has written and edited numerous books on her research in Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen. She also is on the editorial board for the Jordanian magazine al-Mastoor that is dedicated to the issued of poverty.

Dr. Lucine Taminian is a senior researcher in residence at The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq, based in Amman, Jordan.  Dr. Taminian earned her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and has taught there as well as at the American University of Beirut, Pace University, Sarah Lawrence College and Yarmouk University.  She has conducted field research in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen and authored numerous articles and edited three books based on that work.  Dr. Taminian currently serves as a member of the editorial board of al-Mastoor, a Jordanian monthly magazine dedicated to issues of poverty.  She has consulted widely on women’s issues, particularly as they relate to the development process.  Since 2006 she has been senior consultant to the Jordanian National Council for Family Affairs working on the Strategic Plan for Family Protection against Violence in Jordan.

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