The Politics of Identity in Mahmoud Darwish’s Absent Presence: A Textual Act of Resistance

Eman K. Mukattash

Abstract


The study explores the concept of identity in Mahmoud Darwish’s Absent Presence (2006), a work published less than two years before his death. Though recurrent in many of Darwish’s previous works, the theme of identity is tackled differently in this funeral speech. As a self-eulogy, Absent Presence connects the search for identity with death, showing that this search is endless and inexhaustible. Yet, since the reality of death (as the ultimate signified) is beyond human comprehension, it can be only represented through language, which, from a post-structuralist perspective (a system of free-floating signifiers), shares the same endlessness of what comes after death. In this regard, the search for identity in Absent Presence is ultimately achieved through language, which, for the bereaving Darwish, is the only true and lasting form of identity.
By introducing identity as a product of the play of language, the study also aims to prove that resistance in Absent Presence extends to the reality behind it. When defined as a process, identity not only establishes the endless possibility of meaning in the text, but also in the world as meaning is transferred into it to effect change.


Keywords


Identity; Language; Poststructuralism; Change; Death; Textual Resistance; Signifier

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/7916

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