Talk by MENA Prison Forum & UMAM D&R
Horror and its Representation
A Discussion with Yassin Al-Haj Saleh
الفظيع وتمثيله

حوار مع ياسين الحاج صالح
April 6, 2023, 7 PM @ Institut de Monde Arabe | Paris

The MENA Prison Forum, UMAM D&R, and the Institut du Monde Arabe are pleased to invite you to A Discussion with Yassin Al-Haj Saleh.

Nisrine Al-Zahre and Catherine Coquio will moderate a discussion with Syrian writer Yassin Al-Haj Saleh about his recent book “Horror and its Representation: Deliberations on Syria’s Destroyed Form and its Complicated Formation.” The discussion session will address his various works and his experience as a Syrian political activist and former detainee, touching upon his political struggle and his experiences, whether inside or outside of prison or outside it, as well as his role as a writer involved in the Syrian revolution in 2011 that called for a free and decent life and a democratic system in Syria.

About the Panelists: 

Yassin Al-Haj Saleh is a political writer and a former leftist detainee, an author engaged in Syrian affairs, criticism of culture and contemporary Islam, and one of the most prominent Syrian activists in issues of secularism and democracy. He established, in cooperation with other Syrian comrades, the Syrian website, which is one of the most important Arabic-speaking alternative media platforms that deals with Syrian political and cultural affairs at home and in the diaspora. Al-Haj Saleh has been living outside Syria since the fall of 2013.

Al-Haj Saleh has published several books, the most recent of which is Horror and its Representation: Deliberations on Syria’s Destroyed Form and its Complicated Formation, published by MENA Prison Forum/UMAM D&R and Dar Al-Jadeed in 2021. The book combines the preoccupation with the terrible and the devastated worlds that countless Syrians have experienced during nearly a decade. They are worlds of life in which experiences of horrible cruelty, such as torture and imprisonment, the loss of loved ones, the destruction of the living environment, the experience of refuge and dispersion, preceded in many cases by uprooting and displacement, crowd together.

Nisrine Al-Zahre is the director of the Centre of Language and Civilization at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. She is a linguistics scholar, a translator, and a former assistant professor at Homs University, Damascus University, and Paris 8 University. Nisrine Al-Zahre is also senior editor and co-founder of the Syrian website 

Catherine Coquio is a professor of comparative literature at Paris Cité University. In 2017, she co-founded the Syria-Europe Committee with Nisrine Al-Zahre and Hala Abdallah that organized the conference Syria: In Search of the World. Among her recent publications is A quoi bon encore le monde ? La Syrie et nous, published in 2022 by Actes Sud. 

Coquio also co-authored with Farouk Mardam Bey, Joël Hubrecht, and Nayla Mansour the book titled Syrie, le pays brûlé (1970-2021), published in 2022 by Seuil. The book critically addresses dynamics of terrorism, mass imprisonment, systematic torture, sieges of cities, chemical bombardment, ethno-sectarian genocide, and demographic change in Syria. Through the testimonies, informed photographs and analyses of specialists in Middle Eastern conflicts or mass violence, the book aims to preserve Syrian memories for history.