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Illiberal Metamorphoses Of A Liberal Discourse: The Case Of Syrian Intellectual Sami Al-Kayyali (1898–1972)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter tries to define what the ?liberal? in Arab intellectual discourses of the twentieth century actually means. It analyses how his liberal and secular discourse turned more overtly to nationalism, enabling it to embrace racism and violence, revealing the illiberal side of liberal discourses. The author's contention is that an understanding of ?liberal? thought demands a structural and genetic analysis of liberal discourse, more specifically an analysis of its relations to leftist, conservative, and Islamist thought as well as an examination of the metamorphoses of the liberal discourse itself. It also presents four theses to explain the drastic shift more thoroughly: (1) the connection between the intellectual?s discourse and his social location; (2) the violence inherent in the liberal discourse; (3) the relation of the liberal discourse to other discourses; (4) the two conflicting sides of al-Kayyali?s liberal discourse, hybridization and purification.

Keywords: Arab intellectual discourses; liberal discourse; nationalism; Sami al-Kayyali



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