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Arab Women Bloggers: The Emergence of Literary Counterpublics

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Cyberspace as a forum for expression, mobilization, dissent and the organization of alternative social and political networks has been a distinct feature of the new global order since the 1990s. Cyberspace as a forum for alternative expression is also making inroads in the Arabic literary establishment. In 2008, Dar al-Shorouq, an established privately-owned Egyptian publishing house, published three collections of short stories by three women bloggers, Ghada 'Abd al-'Aal, Rihab Bassam and Ghada Mohamed Mahmoud. In this article, I argue that cyberspace, particularly the noted proliferation of literary blogs and blogging among Arab youth, has created new literary public spheres, or 'competing counterpublics', that are breaking the monopoly of mainstream literary spaces and changing tastes. I also argue that cyberspace has been particularly conducive to the participation of women in the literary field, and pose questions about the implications of the emergence of cyber counterpublics on the Arab literary establishment and the canon of Arabic literature.

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