Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Communication Studies, Communications Studies, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Gender & Intersectionality Studies, Geography , Health and Social Care, Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Sociolinguistics, Sociology, Urban Studies
BiographyLayla AbdelRahim is a researcher and author of two books based in Montreal. Her interests lie in epistemology and anthropocentrism, particularly in the ways in which the underlying premises of civilization are reified. She traces the roots of human violence to the ontological premises of domestication in our epistemology. These premises postulate the raison d'être of living and non-living beings in terms of consumption in a hierarchy of food chain thereby centering predation in civilized socio-economic and socio-environmental culture. These premises constitute the foundation of civilized knowledge as it is manifested in science, religion, culture, politics, and art. Her work thus examines the intersections of speciesism, racism, and sexism and the effect of civilized epistemology on the environment. Drawing on palaeontological studies, ethology, and biological anthropology, she challenges the precepts in the narrative of anthropology that constructs the human animal as predator and consumer. Her examination of civilized and wild narratives is relevant to a wide range of disciplines, among which are philosophy of science, evolutionary theory, animal studies, human animal studies (also known as anthropology), sociology, cultural studies, ethics and theology, environmental studies, economics, critique of technology, education, and literary theory.
AbdelRahim is the author of two books, numerous essays, and satire. She gives public talks internationally. Currently, she teaches courses on literature and culture at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières on a part-time basis. In the past, she worked as an anthropologist in Western and Eastern Europe, a journalist of war and in refugee relief and development in North East Africa. Having travelled and lived on five continents, she is fluent in a variety of languages and cultural contexts.
M.A. University of Stockholm, Sweden
B.A. Bryn Mawr College, PA, U.S.A.
Ph.D. University of Montreal, QC, Canada
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Epistemology, sociology of ignorance, evolutionary narratives, comparative and interdisciplinary studies, anarchism, Scandinavia, Russian literature and culture, wilderness, critique of civilization, critique of technology, ethology, ecology, anarchist studies, medical anthropology and its intersections with law and criminology, literature, philosophy and anthropology of science, roots of violence, nationalism, war
The forest, life, physics and earth sciences, theatre, film
Published: Jun 13, 2016 by Deep Green Philly
Authors: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Education, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Geography , Family Studies, Gender & Sexuality, Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Environment and Agriculture , Communications Studies
Many people were outraged after Harambe, a critically endangered silverback gorilla, was shot to death after a toddler fell into his enclosure. In this interview, Layla AbdelRahim brings her unique perspective to this tragedy, encouraging us to examine the social forces and historical processes that led to the gorilla's death and the subsequent demonization of the boy's mother. Along with John Zerzan, Layla AbdelRahim is one of today's most intriguing anti-civ theorists.
Published: Dec 13, 2015 by More Thought
Authors: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Education, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Geography , Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology - Soc Sci
In the interview, Layla discusses some of the main ideas in her wonderful book Wild Children - Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education (Fernwood Publishing, 2013). Layla's latest book is Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness (Routledge, 2015). Richard Capes interviewed Layla AbdelRahim in November 2015.
Published: Nov 03, 2015 by Deep Green Philly
Authors: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Education, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Philosophy, Anthropology - Soc Sci
This is an audio interview on the role of underlying premises of civilised epistemology and anthropology in school violence.
Published: Mar 31, 2014 by Fifth Estate
Authors: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Education, Geography , Sociology & Social Policy, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Environment and Agriculture
This article examines the ontological roots of education as a system of domestication of labour resources, which, at its core, is a colonialist project of civilisation. (Czech and Portuguese translations are available on author's website).
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Geography , History, Literature, Media Communication, Media, Journalism and Communications, Philosophy, Philosophy and Religion, Religion, Sociology, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice
In this interview for Backwoods, Layla AbdelRahim expands on her analysis of the predatory and parasitic foundation of civilized economies. She explains how narratives, whether fictional or scientific, encode templates for socio-economic praxis and clarifies the concept of rewilding that she develops in her books Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation (Routledge 2015; 2018) and Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education (Fernwood 2013).
The interview was conducted by Bellamy Fitzpatrick over the summer of 2018. Painting by Francisco de Goya: Saturn Devouring His Son.
"Storytelling in general, and especially recorded stories, provide an efficient mechanism for the transmission of cultural choices. After all, even in oral traditions, stories have proven to be effective in recording past experiences, which they transmit along with warnings, instructions, and prohibitions. Thus, stories can serve as an ethnographic or historical record and concomitantly influence our actions.
...These are some of the experiences that prompted me to re-examine the foundation of knowledge and its manifestation through both narratives and praxis. My subsequent research confirmed the intricate nexus where anthropology, philology, and economics meet and prompted me to redefine how we understand literature and culture. Basically, I arrived at the conclusion that stories – whether fictional or scientific – reflect how a group chooses to understand and depict itself. Yet deeper than that, it is the premises at the heart of the stories that the narratives propagate and thereby reproduce the cultural choices that had been made in the past. The most fundamental choices any group of living beings can make necessarily pertain to the economy of subsistence (linked to the socio-environmental culture), reproduction of bodies, and the reproduction of the choices themselves.
So, what do I mean by cultural choices? Living organisms devise life strategies, namely, (1) where to obtain the energy to sustain their movement, reproduction, subsistence, and emotional nourishment; and (2) where and to whom to provide the same services. Hence, cultural choices are rooted in subsistence economy and socio-environmental culture. For life to continue on earth, these systems must be sustainable and, if we study the history of life on earth, we see that, indeed, they have been sustainable throughout the history of wilderness –3.5 billion years – while the Anthropocene has proven to be hazardous for life – after a mere 11 thousand years, Homo not-so-sapiens has already ravaged and consumed over 80% of wilderness (see Potapov et al., 2017) and shows no signs of slowing down.
However, the metanarrative of civilization flips these facts and presents a skewed, if not false, picture of the nature of life. And, as my book on children’s literature shows, even the stories that try to challenge this narrative, inadvertently fail, because they continue to operate from the same premises. They actually end up reproducing the same false narrative.
Therefore, if we want to halt the apocalypse and allow life on Earth to continue, it is not enough to simply change the stories we tell. It is imperative that we address the premises about who we are and who we can evolve to be. Equally important, we have to demolish the institutions that ensure the self-propagation of this predatory culture. Unfortunately, all we have is the very same technology that, in the first place, has been responsible for reproducing violence and predation: human language and symbolic culture. The challenge is to move beyond these technologies, beyond the stories and language. We have to go to the root of our anthropology and the physical institutions that work in tandem to ensure the smooth operation of civilization...."
S.W Anthropological Association book REVIEW of Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Art & Visual Culture, Developmental Psychology, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Family Studies, Geography , History, Literature, Mass Communications, Media and Cultural Studies, Media, Journalism and Communications, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice
Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness
By Layla AbdelRahim
2015 Taylor &Francis Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature Series, #31
Literate societies such as our own, where children’s literature is ever increasing in popularity, produce a rich field of material for anthropologists to examine and consider.
How is this literature aimed, if not at both children and at the adults who raise and teach them? Who is the intended audience for these stories, for The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter books or for their filmic counterparts? Looking at classics like Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm brothers, as well as recent authors like Michelle Markel, who is local and the spouse of Cal State Northridge anthropologist Martin Cohen, it is quite apparent that children’s literature is aimed at more than the imaginations and psyches of children. (See, for example, Markel’s Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, or her recent Balderdash!: John Newberry and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books.)
This literature is produced by and for adults as well. Layla AbdelRahim’s book, Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness, explores in great detail the stories we tell ourselves, the paradigms of knowing that we acquire early in life and shed only with great difficulty, if at all. She is especially interested in how stories, which we begin to learn early in life and imbibe to our dying day, communicate important notions about the relationship between nature and culture (framed in part as civilization and wilderness), and chaos and order. The author’s approach is not simple structuralism, however; it goes well beyond the usual binaries. Happily, it is intellectually and socially critical and theoretically sophisticated, and very rich with cross-cultural material. I was especially happy to read the author’s ethnographic examples, which rang quite true, from her interactions with Somalis in the diaspora, a population with which I am also familiar.
The author, as anthropologist, was able to capture some of the important contrasts between oral traditions and literate traditions, majority and minority communities, and varied experiences with globalism. The book is both a meaty and a charming read, and suitable for advanced upper division and graduate students, as well as professionals.
Look for Layla AbdelRahim’s book at the Publishers’ Exhibit Hall at the American Anthropological Association meetings in San Jose, Nov. 14-18, 2018.
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Communication Studies, Communications Studies, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, History, Literature, Philosophy, Sociology, Sociology & Social Policy, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice
Layla AbdelRahim is an anthropologist by training, and has lived, worked and traveled around the world. She speaks widely and has written two non-fiction books, Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams (Fernwood Publishing, 2013), and Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness (Routledge, 2015). Her books and other work actively critique the foundational social narratives that support a human-centered view of the natural world and that compel people to perpetrate and acquiesce to oppression. This interview was conducted by Eric Garza, University of Vermont, for "A Worldview Apart" podcast.
From Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness:
"[T]he process of colonization begins with the ontological conception of ownership of land and resources, which leads to a sedentary system of extraction of labour, flesh, and essence from an environment that does not constitute one’s community or land base. In this symbiotic system, the parasite constructs the world as alien and devises effective systems of exploitation, ownership, and control that allow the parasite in absentia to consume energy in a one-way flow. To succeed in this project, civilization developed technologies to facilitate exploitation by proxy of places and entities whom the breeder, owner, and exploiter may not necessarily see, know,19 touch, or hold.
The first of these technologies is hence the technology of absence. In contrast to wilderness, where presence and empathy are critical for vitality, civilization functions on alienation and absence. This entails physical and emotional absence, but also includes a metaphysical dimension, since technological development is literally linked to death. Namely, the rise of hunting, i.e. killing of others for food, during the Upper Palaeolithic period in the Middle East led some human groups to develop hunting technologies. Palaeoanthropologist Clive Gamble (in Ingold, 1997; p. 94) connects this development in hunting technologies to colonization, while anthropologist Richard Lee (1988) links the appearance of human language to the rise in hunting activities. Hunting thus led to domestication, and both of these cultures of subsistence kill intentionally and on a systematic basis" (AbdelRahim, page 15).
REVIEW in AS of Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Applied Arts & Music, Communications Studies, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Film and Video, Geography , Literature, Media and Cultural Studies, Media, Journalism and Communications, Philosophy, Political Science, Politics & International Relations
Layla AbdelRahim, Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness New York: Routledge, 2015 & 2018; 265pp, Hardback ISBN 9780415661102; Paperback ISBN 9781138547810
By Petar Jandric, Professor of Philosophy, Zagreb University of Applied Sciences
In Anarchist Studies; Vol. 26, #1, Spring 2018 (Peer-reviewed, academic journal)
Without much thinking, we often juxtapose wilderness and civilisation. The ontology of wilderness translates into anarchy, and the ontology of civilisation translates into order. However, Layla AbdelRahim shows that this neat and orderly dichotomy is a mere fad – the human world consists of wilderness, and of civilisation, and of endless shades of grey between the two.
In the introductory chapter, AbdelRahim introduces the main theoretical underpinnings of her work through descriptions of culture, wildness, civilisation, colonisation and literature. She proceeds with an interesting biographical perspective which illuminates the paths of her thinking, the diverse influences on her work, and her unusually cosmopolitan life trajectory. AbdelRahim was born in Moscow, in an inter-racial, inter-continental, and multi-lingual family. As a child she moved to Sudan, and later to Europe and Canada, and she speaks Russian, English, Arabic, and some Italian. It is at through this combination of influences, that she acquired the unique perspective that informs her critique of civilisation and wilderness.
In the first part of the book, AbdelRahim explores Epistemologies of Chaos and the Orderly Unknowledge of Literacy. Her work is based on analyses of a wide spectrum of primary sources such as Tove Jansson’s Moomin series, Nikolai Nosov’s The Adventures of Dunno and Friends, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, and many others. AbdelRahim interprets these works through a selection of important theorists and philosophers including Foucault, Bourdieu, and Derrida; she also connects them to works of important anarchists such as Kropotkin and Zerzan. It is through this masterful connection between primary sources, philosophy, and (anarchist) theory, that AbdelRahim draws a powerful distinction between ‘“primitive” society, where members express gratitude for all creation and warn against futile destruction of life, from ‘civilised’ (consumer) society, which sees its meaning for existence in domestication, exploitation, and a birth-given right to devour’ (p114).
AbdelRahim’s critique is especially powerful in regard to the relationships between Kropotkin’s theory of mutual aid and Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. She provides a nuanced understanding of Kropotkin’s work and emphasises that mutual aid does not imply personal disinterest. Similarly, she emphasises an often-ignored fact that Darwin’s theory was not just about the survival of the fittest. Using fictional accounts, she reminds readers that both theories are mere metaphors for describing a complex social universe, and explores the improbable scenarios, and shows the unfortunate consequences of applying these metaphors too literally. As often happens in anthropological research, AbdelRahim shows that the truth is hidden somewhere between the metaphors. While she clearly stands closer to (crude interpretations of) Kropotkin than Darwin, AbdelRahim does a great job in linking their powerful metanarratives to a wider cultural context.
The second part of the book, Genealogical Narratives of Wilderness and Domestication: Identifying the Ontologies of Genesis and Genetics in Children’s Literature, analyses the ontological premises of wilderness and civilisation. Here, AbdelRahim first explores eternal concepts such as love and truth, then links these concepts to the construction of identity. This section is packed with little gems of great analysis, such as AbdelRahim’s use of Foucault to construct the identity of zoo animals and expand this construction to all members of the consumer society. However, probably because my own line of research is in digital cultures, I was most impressed by AbdelRahim’s analysis of Donna Haraway’s cyborg theory through various examples of science fiction stories from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, through Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey, to Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? In a mere five or six pages, AbdelRahim tackles complexities and nuances which are debated in thousands of pages in various media studies journals clearly and accessibly, and provides a succinct account of the contemporary relationships between humans and technologies.
The last section, In the End: Anthropological Narratives in Fiction and Life, brings together diverse and often disconnected lines of argument into a single ‘conclusion’. I place the word conclusion in quotation marks deliberately, because AbdelRahim does not offer the short, bulleted, prescriptive concluding remarks which are so popular in academic writing. Acknowledging the complex nature of the theme, she asserts that human beings need both wilderness and civilisation. Yet, while civilisation provides us with protection from forces of nature and chaotic social arrangements, it is in the realm of wilderness that we need to seek refuge from the perils of commodified human relationships and the inspiration for a better and more just life. Therefore, anarchism is not just another philosophy, or ontology, or social theory – it is the very basis of human and social development.
Using a powerful inter-disciplinary methodology, Layla AbdelRahim’s Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation provides a nuanced and mature theory of wilderness and civilisation. The book is written well, yet the complex writing style and numerous references might make it hard to follow for non-academic audiences. But this is the only serious drawback of AbdelRahim’s work, which expresses some very important ideas, and these ideas should be somehow made accessible to a much wider population.
Petar Jandric, Zagreb University of Applied Sciences
Book Review - Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Area Studies, Communications Studies, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Critical & Creative Life Writing, Developmental Psychology, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Geography , Health Psychology, History, Literature, Media and Cultural Studies, Media, Journalism and Communications, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Urban Studies
"This book is relevant across disciplines. It gets to the root of many socio-environmental problems, provides a useful analysis of how these systems operate, and offers solutions for change. It will appeal to those interested in the connection between children’s literature and socialization and the transmission of “civilized memes and genes” through literacy. It is a much-needed addition to studies in areas such as Education, Geography, Environmental Studies, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, English literature, Anthropology, Globalization, Sociology, and Interdisciplinary Studies. For both educators and activists, it opens the door to new teaching tools, e.g., the critical tools to interrogate the narratives we accept and then present to children–some of them appearing deceptively innocuous–and revaluates whether they are really serving us.
The study will also be of interest to Critical Animal Studies scholars, with topics such as the transformation of humans and nonhumans into resources, and how narratives can help overcome speciesism. As AbdelRahim claims, the institutions of civilization are rooted in classism, sexism, racism, and speciesism. In her words, “this intersectionality works to solidify oppressive and discriminatory practices and the epistemological classification system on which this paradigm is built has serious material repercussions for whole classes of beings” (AbdelRahim, p. 9).
Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation is richly comparative, experientially compelling, informative, thought-provoking, and well-supported. Digging deep into our social foundations, it both critiques and celebrates science and folklore, while providing a new perspective that is both a treat and a challenge to those who love literature. It is a compassionate call to the readers to transform their surroundings in the spirit of wildness, love, and peace. This world is much like the borderless home that Jansson dreams of, “where sorrow can be cured by acceptance, where healing comes through movement and Moominmamma’s love, and where Snufkin destroys the incarcerating power of literacy and language and reinstates authentic communication and understanding with his song” (AbdelRahim, p. 109). To truly become free, it is imperative to re-examine the stories that have made up our lives, indoctrinated us into a war on wilderness, and caused alienation from each other and our own wildness within. How would life be different if we moved from ordered civilization to a wild, harmonic chaos? As AbdelRahim asks, would children still need to be told “…that a world of careless play and agency over one’s mind and imagination are to be forsaken when they move on to the ‘real’ world?” (p. 220)".
Book review in the International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Adolescent Studies, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Communications Studies, Consumer Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Education, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Geography , History, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice
In her recent critique of kids’ books, Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation (Routledge; PB edition, 2018), Layla AbdelRahim recounts this striking tale from Onchukov’s collection of North Russian folk stories:
A man was walking to Njonoksa, on the bridge… he saw a she-devil rambling: “A dress to impress I had; everything was taken away; but today, into the water I probe in a fashionable German robe, all bright, and with a haircut short and never will I emerge again, and never will show my voice.
Her admirable English translation parodies pedagogical grammar in a kind of beat hopscotch: dress/impress is serpentine; robe/probe sounds slightly lewd (and why is the robe German, not Dutch or Turkish?). The haircut seems an unexplained rite (short, shameful?). You cannot show a voice, but a face – yet certainly a voice shows something? Colossal stature, or its opposite in a visual gag. The babbling she-devil is a loopy relative of the Grimm Scissor Man or the Japanese snow witch. Note that she’s met on a ramble, where all songs and accidents start (or end: ‘No more I’ll go a roving’). And bridges are common places for strange meetings, once upon a time.
...The argument of Children’s Literature is that most Western childhood classics contain, consciously or unconsciously, a virulent antipathy toward the natural world, animals and animal nature, and the Commons. Fear of the wilderness is a preoccupation of this morose literature, represented in mythic or animal forms that both allure and terrify. The result is the inculcation of the arid outlines of commodity relations over the vigorously dialectical childhood mind. Even when children’s books offer a critique of that terrible project which begins at childhood’s end – Adulthood – the best it can muster is a kind of sentimental admission of defeat, exemplified by A. A. Milne’s final paragraph in Winnie the Pooh.
...AbdelRahim’s critiques of Lewis Carroll, Frank Baum, Milne, Lewis and Sendak are incisive and carefully thought through, stated clearly but with a true feel for poetics and ambiguity. As arguments, they are probably irrefutable.
Full review in the link below:
How Children's Literature Links to Narcissism and Violence - Layla AbdelRahim, interview, Psychology Today
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Applied Linguistics, Art & Visual Culture, Built Environment, Cognitive Psychology, Communication Studies, Communications Studies, Developmental Psychology, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education, English Language & Linguistics, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Geography , Health Psychology, History, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Psychology, Sociology, Sociology & Social Policy, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice
Evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff interviews Layla AbdelRahim for Psychology Today:
"My book offers an analysis of how narratives of civilisation centre the interests of the “owners” and the “agents”, i.e. of those who are economically and politically dominant and silences the voices of the suffering to continue their exploitation. In this manner, the public discourse frames the perspective of the predator in terms of truth and the voices that challenge the naturalness of predation as lie. My hope is that this book will provide a new lens through which to understand our anthropology – or self-knowledge as predators – and to rewild (link is external) ourselves, starting with our narratives and socio-environmental economy and ending with our language and dreams.
... If we are to halt the impending anthropogenic catastrophe, we need to identify the ways in which we have disrupted the system of life on this planet. To do that, we need to do three things: get outside our narcissistic narratives; cede our self-designated place as top predator; and re-integrate ourselves into wild economies, in which we cherish and respect the self-realisation and wellbeing of each creature regardless of species or whether they hold any value for us. This is what I mean by rewilding".
For more info about the author and the book, please visit HERE
Full interview in the link below:
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Built Environment, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Geography
Layla AbdelRahim, a scholar on wilderness and civilization and author of Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness, was asked by New York Times science journalist, JoAnna Klein, to comment on rewilding efforts.
"Perhaps the solution is rethinking what it means to be humans in a natural world, said Layla AbdelRahim, an anthropologist who has studied human understanding of wilderness. We must recognize our role as partners with the environment, rather than dominators, to maintain functioning ecosystems, she said".
Interview with Layla AbdelRahim @ (dis)balance of power, anthropocentrism, animal liberation, rewilding, book tour India
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Geography , Literature, Philosophy, Sociology, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice
Episode 199: We talk with Layla AbdelRahim; Anarcho-Primitivist, Comparatist Anthropologist and Author of Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness (Routledge 2015) and Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education (Fernwood Publishing 2013). Her work can be found at http://layla.miltsov.org/. We discuss (dis)balance of power, anthropocentrism, animal liberation, rewilding, her book tour in India in the summer of 2016, and much more.
"Domesticated narratives provide the schemata for crime and deviance by means of logical or rational linkages. To correct or punish certain behaviour, it first needs to be denominated, circumscribed, defined, and then disciplined. The knowledge derived through the various disciplines then establishes logical sequences between acts and results, such as between the correctional methods, the acts of deviance, their results, and finally, the outcome of the correction itself. The very purpose of the civilized story is to make a point, limit, and define. Where the wild narrative is free to wander, the civilized story projects an expectation of a climax through a possibly dynamic and evolving plot that seizes time and assumes it to be a natural structure bound to the concept of a finite frame. Thereby the civilized story constricts experience and directs the object of domestication, through the promise of punishment and reward (i.e. threats), to a world of civilized obedience" (page 97 of Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness, Routledge 2015).
By: Layla AbdelRahim
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Built Environment, Communication Studies, Communications Studies, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education, Environment and Agriculture , Environment and Sustainability, Gender & Intersectionality Studies, Geography , History, Literature, Media Communication, Media and Cultural Studies, Media, Journalism and Communications, Philosophy, Philosophy and Religion, Psychology, Religion, Social Psychology, Social Work, Sociolinguistics, Sociology, Sociology & Social Policy, Sociology, Criminology and Criminal Justice
"The fact that the topoi for legalized violence – such as war or the death penalty – or for racism, sexism, speciesism, stratification, poverty, inter alia, still persist, both in civilized society and in the fictional narratives we dream, points to that intrinsically and qualitatively things have not changed over the course of civilized human history. If anything, they have exacerbated both in reality and in representational culture. The images broadcast today make Goya’s depictions of war appear to be from the realm of tales, an Alice in Wonderland adventure, a nightmare we think we can blink off upon awakening but in reality only step into an even more terrifying world of horror. The issue is not simply that The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters, engendering a desolate space where children’s literature constitutes the lullabies that lull our humanness to sleep. As this book will try to demonstrate, it is rather that civilized reason begets monsters, for, through stories that try to explain our raison d’être, it weaves a narrative of captivity, servitude, and death" (p. 23).
This study of children's literature as knowledge, culture, and social foundation bridges the gap between science and literature and examines the interconnectedness of fiction and reality as a two-way road. The book investigates how the civilized narrative orders experience by means of segregation, domestication, breeding, and extermination, arguing instead that the stories and narratives of wilderness project chaos and infinite possibilities for experiencing the world through a diverse community of life. AbdelRahim engages these narratives in a dialogue with each other and traces their expression in the various disciplines and books written for both children and adults, analyzing the manifestation of fictional narratives in real life.
This is both an inter- and multi-disciplinary endeavour that is reflected in the combination of research methods drawn from anthropology and literary studies as well as in the tracing of the narratives of order and chaos, or civilization and wilderness, in children's literature and our world. Chapters compare and contrast fictional children's books that offer different real-world socio-economic paradigms, such as A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh projecting a civilized monarcho-capitalist world, Nikolai Nosov's trilogy, The Adventures of Dunno and Friends, presenting the challenges and feats of an anarcho-socialist society in evolution from primitivism towards technology, and Tove Jansson's Moomin books depicting the harmony of anarchy, chaos, and wildness.
AbdelRahim examines the construction, transmission, and acquisition of knowledge in children’s literature by visiting the very nature of literature, culture, and language and the civilized structures that domesticate the world. She brings radically new perspectives to the knowledge, culture, and construction of human beings, making an invaluable contribution to a wide range of disciplines, such as environmental studies, animal studies, criminology, among others, and for those engaged in revolutionizing contemporary debates on the nature of knowledge, human identity, and the world.
20% discount is available on the book's Facebook page (see the included link).
Published: Feb 18, 2012
Dr AbdelRahim will discuss the importance of the anti-civilized hero in exploring the possibilities of overcoming the very ontology of education as rooted in the civilized need to separate the knower from the unknower, the possessor from the dispossessed or more accurately from the possessed, the person from the non-person, the male from the female, among endless other ways of othering and domesticating.
Published: Oct 08, 2013
Layla AbdelRahim discusses the underlying premises in the civilised conception of justice. These premises assume the naturalness of violence and thus work to legitimate violence and predatory relationships as the core of civilissation with its socio-economic culture and the relationships it fosters. This public lecture was organised by Critical Criminology Working Group at the department of Criminology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, B.C., Canada.
Published: May 24, 2015