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Abstract

In his article "Political Modernism, Jabrā, and the Baghdad Art Group" Nathaniel Greenberg discusses how the art and literature of the late Palestinian novelist Jabrā Ibrahīm Jabrā challenged the normative perception of Arab modernism both within and outside the Middle East. Greenberg evaluates the influence of French existentialism on Jabrā's political vision of modernism and discusses the impact and nature of existentialism on Jabrā and on the Middle East. Educated in Europe, Jabrā returned to the Middle East in 1948 to live permanently in Baghdad where he was a member of the influential Baghdad Modern Art Group, established in 1951 under the direction of the preeminent Iraqi artist of the time, Jawād Selīm. While Jabrā became a leading proponent of the Baghdad Group and wrote about Selim's vision of modernism, in his own art he sought to move beyond the binary of Islam and the West, repetition and change, emulation and innovation. In politics, Jabrā attributed the loss of Palestine to an "outmoded tradition" and thus his novels and paintings depict individuals experimenting with action over reflection and self-determinism over communalism.

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