Binaries without borders : performing genders in Ghalib Halasa’s “Al-Bish’ah”
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Jordanian author Ghalib Halasa lived the majority of his adult life in transit, being exiled from many counties to do his political beliefs. This exile, however, provided him with a unique perspective with which to represent Jordanian and Arab culture more generally. His short story,"Al-Bish’ah,” written earlier in his life, critiques traditional gender roles and binaries, as well as traditional practices which determine honour and justice. Through his telling of a traditional ritual through a powerful mother-figure, Halasa distorts local depictions of gender, and instead inscribes a gender fluidity informed by his lifetime in exile, allowing for a closer depiction of society as he sees it. In this report, I will demonstrate the ways in which Halasa deconstructs traditional gender binaries and traditions through close examination of characters’ gender performance, informed by the work of Goffman and Butler. Additionally, I will connect his destabilizing of gender and traditional rituals to his own life and experience, placing the story within the context of his life and Arab culture at large.