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The Political Anatomy of the Everyday: The Case of the Libyan Arab al-Jamahiriyah (1977-2011)

CAPASSO, MATTEO (2018) The Political Anatomy of the Everyday: The Case of the Libyan Arab al-Jamahiriyah (1977-2011). Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Most academic literature examining the political history of al-Jamahiriyah not only reduces power into a mere question of failing structures and the supremacy of Mu’ammar Qadhdhafi, but also triggers the disappearance of Libyans from their own history. In response, this study relies on a conceptual framework that looks at power and resistance as socio-cultural and dialogical processes to be studied through the everyday life of people. It adopts a methodological approach that privileges the subjective experiences of Libyans and bases its empirical study on oral histories/narratives. At the intersection of political sociology and political anthropology, the work of Sara Ahmed, Laurent Berlant, Michel de Certeau, Michel Foucault, Achille Mbembe, James C. Scott and Slavoj Žižek is brought into critical dialogue to investigate and cloud the distinction between power and resistance in the everyday. The interrelated findings of the study, divided across four chapters, reveal, firstly, how power is experienced as imposed, focusing on the disciplinary effects of violence, surveillance and fear over people’s everyday lives. Secondly, they show that, while people constantly try to manipulate those controlling mechanisms, their attempts often end up sustaining the power of the regime. This aspect emerges in people’s interactions with the ideological symbols and structures of the regime. In such a situation, humor, dissimulation and corruption play a very ambiguous role in mocking and maneuvering power, while (re)producing its mechanisms. Thirdly, the study outlines how quotidian fantasies and desires shape dynamics of power and resistance, showing the gradual emergence of popular hopes for a more consumerist and modern Libya. The complex array of dynamics that characterised the political anatomy of the everyday during al-Jamahiriyah becomes relevant for the revolutionary events of 2011, which led to its fall. The fourth thematic chapter shows the necessity to comprehend the everyday role of people in sustaining those dynamics of power and resistance in the present, following the fall of al-Jamahiriyah. The study sheds light on the empirical complexity of power and resistance and those spaces in-between, and thereby contributes not only to the theoretical understanding of mundane aspects of power and political authority, but also to the study of Libya and, more generally, the Middle East.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:al-Jamahiriyah, everyday life, Libya, power, resistance, revolution, Qadhdhafi.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Jul 2018 11:58

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