Critical Hope: Critique in the Works of Husayn Muruwwa and His Grandson Rabih Mroué

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This article explores the theory and practice of critique in the works of the Lebanese Communist intellectual Husayn Muruwwa (1910–1987) and his grandson Rabih Mroué (b. 1967). Husayn Muruwwa, one of the most important Arabintellectuals of the second half of the twentieth century, reinvented literary criticism and cultural critique in the 1950s and ’60s. His grandson, one of the most prominent Arabvisual artists, has been redefining the critical approach to visual representation since the Lebanese civil war. The article pits Husayn Muruwwa’s critique based on collective hope and emancipation against his grandson’s vision of an individualistic critique based on desire. It considers the critical and political writings of Husayn Muruwwa and Rabih Mroué’s performances, video lectures, and interviews to explore specifically how they represent hope in relation to critique, and it ultimately suggests a participatory aesthetics that is common to both and that transcends their autobiographical statements and establishes resonances between their thought. Their approaches to critique, the article illustrates, play out as revised inheritances of both the Arabrenaissance (nahda) and the national liberation movements in the 1970s. These revisions create a continuity that is critical to understanding the relationship between critique and hope in the Arabintellectual tradition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-113
Number of pages29
JournalCritical Times
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Arabsocialist realism
  • Arabvisual art
  • critical hope
  • critique
  • naqd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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