Transnational Perspectives: War, Power, and Violence in the Work of Etel Adnan

Hessa Algahdeer


This paper seeks to investigate how national literature transcends local borders and interconnects with images and realities of war, power, and violence in a transnational context. The current study attempts to position the contemporary Arab-American writer and poet, Etel Adnan (1925), within a transitional milieu that engages questions regarding what type of associations may be made among the themes under study and how dialogue between nationalism and literature does meet from the lens of a transnational perspective. Drawing upon a wide range of transnational theories and criticism, borderland theory, and Anglophone Arab feminist writing, I attempt to examine how Adnan questions, mediates, and reflects upon her transnational experience in light of what scholars such as Pries (2001), Ramazani (2009), Parker and Young (2013), Smith and Guarnizo (1998), and Jakubowicz (2012) have negotiated in this field. Through a selection of Adnan’s genres and literary styles, the paper focuses on how issues of transnational ethnicity, culture, race, history, politics and multiple belongings intersect in the transnational landscapes that signify the vitality of contemporary Arab-American women’s writing and give voice to the peculiarities of female subjectivity beyond borderlands. In this sense, the paper will bring to light the emerging transnational literary discourse and variations of its expressions and forms that resist the confines of national spaces and state borders.


Etel Adnan; Arab-American poetry; Transnationalism; Lebanon; War; Violence; Power

Full Text:



Adnan, E., & Salvador, E. (1990). It was Beirut, all over again. Middle East Report, 20(162), 20-21.

Adnan, E. (1978). Sitt marie rose. Sausalito: The Post-Apollo Press.

Adnan, E. (1993). Of cities & women: Letters to Fawwaz. Sausalito: The Post-Apollo Press.

Adnan, E. (2005). In the heart of the heart of another country. San Francesco: City Lights Books.

Adnan, E. (2008). Seasons. Sausalito: The Post-Apollo Press.

Adnan, E. (2012). Sea and fog. Callicoon, NY: Nightboat Books.

Bhabha, H. K. (Ed.). (1990). Nation and narration. London: Routledge.

Buell, F. (1994). National culture and the new global system. London: JHU Press.

Busailah, R. E. (1986). Unless you change the world: The art and thought of Etel Adnan. Arab Studies Quarterly, 8(3), 1986.

Cariello, M. (2012). Etel Adnan’s The Arab apocalypse: Self-translating the untranslatable (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Seconda Università di Napoli, Dipartimento di Studi Europei e Mediterranei, Via del Setificio n. 15 - 81020 S. Leucio CE.

Clifford, J. (1992). Travelling cultures. In L. Grossberg, C. Nelson & P. Treichler (Eds.), Cultural Studie (pp.96-116). New York: Routledge.

Cooke, M. (1987). War’s other voices: Women writers on the Lebanese Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jakubowicz, L. (2012). Transnationalism–Migration–Integration. Migration and nation state in the modern world order through the prism of the concept of transnationalism. SIAK-Journal−Journal for Police Science and Practice, 2, 4-18.

Ludescher, T. (2003). Review of the book Etel Adnan: Critical essays on the Arab-American writer and artist. MELUS, 28(4), 229-233.

Majaj, L. S., & Amireh, A. (Eds.). (2002). Etel Adnan: Critical essays on the Arab-American writer and artist. London: McFarland.

Makdisi, J. S. (1990). Beirut fragments: A war memoir. New York: Persea Books.

Malti-Douglas, F. (1991). Beirut personified. Journal of Women’s History, 2(3), 135-138.

Moghadam, V. M. (Ed.). (2007). From patriarchy to empowerment: Women’s participation, movements, and rights in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

Parker, A., & Young, S. (Eds.). (2013). Transnationalism and resistance: Experience and experiment in women’s writing. New York: Rodopi.

Pries, L. (2001). The approach of transnational social spaces. Responding to new configurations of the social and the spatial. In L. Pries (Ed.), New transnational spaces. International migration and transnational companies in the early twenty-first century. London: Routledge.

Ramazani, J. (2009). A transnational poetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Schiller, N. G., Basch, L., & Blanc, C. S. (1995). From immigrant to transmigrant: Theorizing transnational migration. Anthropological Quarterly, 68(1), 48-63.

Shehadeh, L. R. (Ed.). (1999). Women and war in Lebanon. Florida: University Press of Florida.

Shoaib, M. (2003). Surpassing borders and “folded maps”: Etel Adnan’s location in There. Studies in Humanities-Indiana, 30(1/2), 21-28.

Smith, M. P., & Guarnizo, L. E. (Eds.). (1998). Transnationalism from below. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Tillman, L. (2009). Interview with Etel Adnan. Bidoun, 18. Retrieved from

Weaver, K. (1986). The non-worldly world: A conversation with Etel Adnan. Poetry Flash, 158 (1).

Wilson, R., & Dissanayake, W. (Eds.). (1996). Global/local: Cultural production and the transnational imaginary. Durham: Duke University Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)

Share us to:   


Online Submission


How to do online submission to another Journal?

If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;

 Articles published in Studies in Literature and Language are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://; Http://;;

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture