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“Doesn’t He Know Who I Am?”. Lebanese Children’s Civil War: Film, History, Philosophy.

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Disciplines
  • Linguistics
  • Literature
  • Political Science

Abstract

The thesis uses the theories of Giorgio Agamben in three major works: Homo Sacer, State of Exception, and Infancy and History, in conjunction with a seminal work by Paul Ricoeur Memory, History, Forgetting, to explore the narrative films of three Lebanese directors. Agamben writes about the bio political body which must declare itself as under the total subservience of the sovereign in order to attain its rights to citizenship. He points to the relationship of language acquisition and the socialising aspect of infancy. Ricoeur’s theories are based on the narrative and the functional aspects of memory. These films are made from the child’s point-of-view, and span the years of the Civil War, from 1975- 1990. Based on events in the capital city Beirut, these largely autobiographical films outline the circumstances of the war. The directors provide a visual portrayal demonstrating that language and gesture, within time and space, are particularly important when raising issues and debates around the relationships between the private and the public. The perspective of the social and political structures lead to an exploration of the importance of the placement of the pre pubescent child within this environment. Gender roles, in particular the relationship of fathers to sons within the patriarchal society, help to demonstrate how the cycle of power transmission may be subverted.

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