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Lamma: A Journal of Libyan Studies #1 is Out Now

Published onJul 21, 2020
Lamma: A Journal of Libyan Studies #1 is Out Now

As Libya struggles to shape itself in the years following uprisings that toppled a decades-long dictatorship, as the country’s state and educational institutions grapple with the past and attempt to look forward, and as Libyan cultural institutions are more numerous and active than ever, students and scholars in Libya and elsewhere want to understand Libya’s histories, societies, struggles, and achievements. Now, more than ever, “Libyan Studies” must broaden its horizons and re-center the means and methods of knowledge production. There is a need for a forum that does just this, while also accounting for the complex ideas, values, social configurations, histories, and material realities that constitute Libya. This journal aims to provide that forum.

— Adam Benkato

Published today at punctum books, Lamma: A Journal of Libyan Studies #1 edited by Adam Benkato, Amina Zarrugh, & Leila Tayeb. This project, re-imaging critical disciplines to develop a new conception of Libyan Studies, is available in print and digital open access at

About the Journal

Lamma aims to provide a forum for critically understanding the complex ideas, values, social configurations, histories, and material realities in Libya. Recognizing, and insisting on, the urgent need for such a forum, we give attention to a wide a range of disciplines, sources, and approaches, foregrounding especially those which have previously received less scholarly attention. This includes, but is not limited to: anthropology, art, gender, history, linguistics, literature, music, performance studies, politics, religion, and urban studies, in addition to their intersections, their subfields, the places in between, and critical, theoretical, and postcolonial approaches thereto. Lamma is a space where these fields can interact and draw from one another, and where scholars and students from inside and outside of Libya gather to redefine and reshape “Libyan Studies.” We believe that access to research is not the privilege of a few but the right of all and that knowledge production should be inclusive. For these reasons the journal takes its name from the Arabic word lamma, “a gathering.”

This first issue of Lamma brings together academic research, cultural commentary, literature, and translation. It aims to show some of the possible varieties of research on Libya, from history and literature to sociolinguistics, gender studies, and more. But, perhaps more importantly, it aims to show that the efforts of academic researchers, cultural actors, writers, translators, and even artists are not separate endeavors but rather intertwined. By bringing these efforts together in one forum, we hope to set them in fruitful dialog with each other—and thus begin to complexify the notion of “Libyan Studies.”


Adam Benkato – “A Gathering”

Jakob Krais – “Re-Centering Libya’s History: Mediterranean Bulwark, Defender of Africa, or Bridge between Continents?”

Christophe Pereira – “The Construction of Virility and Performance of Masculinities in the Language Practices of Young Men in Tripoli”

Tasnim Qutait – “Retracing a Disappearing Landscape: On Libyan Cultural Memory”

Hadia Gana – “Building Bayt Ali Gana”

André Naffis-Sahely – “‘The Whole Shadow of Man’: Alessandro Spina’s Libyan Epic”

Alessandro Spina – “Excerpts from The Fourth Shore, translated by André Naffis- Sahely”

Lisa Anderson – “A Pool of Water: Perspectives on the Libyan Revolution”

Afifa Ltifi – “Review of The Slave Pens by Najwa Bin Shatwan”

Najat Abdulhaq – “Review of Jewish Libya: Memory & Identity in Text & Image, edited by Jacques Roumani, David Meghnagi, & Judith Roumani”

About the Editors

Adam Benkato teaches in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on linguistics and philology, primarily of Arabic in North Africa and of Iranian languages. He holds an MA and PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies and and a BA from the University of Southern California.

Amina Zarrugh is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Texas Christian University. Her research focuses on politics and forced disappearance in North Africa and race/ethnicity in the U.S. She completed her BA in sociology and government and her MA and PhD in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Leila Tayeb is Stanford Taylor Postdoctoral Associate of Music and Islam in the Contemporary World at Cornell University. Her research centers on performance and politics in Africa and the Middle East with a primary focus in contemporary Libya.

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