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Impasse of the Angels

Scenes from a Moroccan Space of Memory

The image of the ethnographer in the field who observes his or her subjects from a distance while copiously taking notes has given way in recent years to a more critical and engaged form of anthropology. Composed as a polyphonic dialogue of texts, Stefania Pandolfo’s Impasse of the Angels takes this engagement to its limit by presenting the relationship between observer and observed as one of interacting equals and mutually constituting interlocuters.

Impasse of the Angels explores what it means to be a subject in the historical and poetic imagination of a southern Moroccan society. Passionate and lyrical, ironic and tragic, the book listens to dissonant, often idiosyncratic voices—poetic texts, legends, social spaces, folktales, conversations—which elaborate in their own ways the fractures, wounds, and contradictions of the Maghribî postcolonial present. Moving from concrete details in a traditional ethnographic sense to a creative, experiential literary style, Impasse of the Angels is a tale of life and death compellingly addressing readers from anthropology, literature, philosophy, postcolonial criticism, and Middle Eastern studies.

397 pages | 1 color plate | 6 x 9 | © 1997

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Middle Eastern Studies

Table of Contents

Note on Transcription
Part 1. Returns
Returns 1. Topology of a City
The Map
First Turn: Frame from Afar
Second Turn: The Eye-in-the-Tracing
Third Turn: The Gaze Outside
Fourth Turn: The Fans
Fifth Turn: Bi-langue
Sixth Turn: The Cartographic Dream
Seventh Turn: Remembering from Right to Left
Eighth Turn: The Story of the Dough-Boy
Ninth Turn: Mullî, The Trope of Re-turn
Returns 2. The New Village
Returns 3. Splinters at L-Hashmi’s Funeral
Part 2. Contra-diction: Hadda, Son of Tamu
Contra-diction 1. Dialogics of Fitna
She Might Kill You Too
Fitna: A Maze of Words to Get Lost In
Rhetoric of the Expulsion: The Image and the Feces
The Bit and the Bridle of Love
Contra-diction 2. Hasab and Nasab
Tea and Sugar, the Masculine and Feminine, the Name and the Other
The Lock and the Loom
Forgetting Names
Contra-diction 3. My Father and I
My Father and I
The Fire
The Candle
Appendix: Fitna (from Lisân al-’ârab, fourteenth century)
Part 3. Loss: The Sphere of the Moon
Loss 1. The Sphere of the Moon
The Dream
Dreams, Heterography, and the Voyages of the Rûh
The Leaving
Loss 2. Ruins
"And the Last Is Left Empty-Handed": Scenes from Si Lhussein’s History of Fall
Trauerspiel and the Disiecta Membra of Allegory
The Inestimable Ruins of the Present
Everything Returns to Being Earth
Istinzâl: The Broom and the Ladder of Rhetorics
Loss 3. Impasse of the Angels
Tell Me Sunken Well
L-Ghîd, l-Hîd, and the Poetry of Exile
Black Words
Inhabiting the Vanishing
On the Paths That Words Take

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