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LEARNING DESIRE Relational Pedagogies and the Desiring Female Subject in Lebanon Suad Joseph INTRODUCTION: DESIRE AND SELF While many scholars have cautioned against the possibility of defining, representing or containing desire (Todd 1997: 6; Goodheart 1991: 2), the assumption that the desiring subject is an "individual" has generally stood. Much scholarship in the United States, informed by liberalist political philosophy , has tended to link the identification and experience of a person's (female or male) "authentic" desires with the development of an autonomous, bounded, separative self. Even among scholars critical ofthe individualist construct of self and attuned to theorizing a more relational subject, or at least a relational female subject (Chodorow 1978; Flax 1993), relationality has given way to autonomy in discussions of desire. Cultural feminists, the most committed of feminist scholars of relational subjectivity (Gilligan 1982; Gilligan, Lyons, and Hanmer 1990; Ruddick 1989), have struggled to accommodate relationality to agential desire (agency being commonly equated with the autonomous self). The construct of"relational individualism" has been offered, in feminist therapeutic discourses, as a healthy balance between the perceived equally dysfunctional extremes of relationality and autonomy. In this therapeutic resolution, the emphasis is, nevertheless, on the female subject knowing her "own" desires as distinct from those of others (Radden 1996). Rich and extensive as the literature on desire and the desiring female subject has become (Deleuze and Guatarri 1984; Butler 1987, 1994, 1995; Dickey 1996; Goodchild 1996; Kaye 1992; Kristeva 1980, 1984; Lichtman 1982; Martel 2001; JOURNAL OF MIDDLE EAST WOMEN'S STUDIES Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2005). C 2005 80 «se JOURNAL OF MIDDLE EAST WOMEN'S STUDIES Stoler 1999; Williams 1995; Young 1995), particularly in the last two decades, relatively little of it has addressed the learning of desire in the Middle East (Brooks 1995; Haeri 1989; Humphreys 1999; Khan 2002). When desire is addressed in the literature on the Middle East, the scholarship of note has tended to focus on sexual desire (Massad 2002; Ilkkaracan 2000; Shalinsky 1986) rather than desire more generally. Hardly any scholarship exists investigating the pedagogies through which desire is learned, taught, and practiced within familial and local community settings. Few works on the Middle East consider the processes by which the desiring female subject is differentiated from the desiring male subject. Nor do they study how the desires of female and male subjects both become animated by culturally specific notions of subjectivity that embed desire within relational matrices. And while work on Middle Eastern patriarchies abounds, one must turn to literary (Mahfouz 1990; Altorki 1999; Al-Nowaihi 1999; Al-Shaykh 1986; Barakat 1995; cooke and Badran 1990; Jabbour 1989; Samman 1995; Soueif 1992; Rifaat 1983) rather than empirical sources to excavate the productive relationships between patriarchy and desire formation. In this paper, I explore what I call relational pedagogies—how local constructs of desire, configured within notions of relational selfhood, were learned, taught, and practiced in the context of intimate patriarchal familial and communal relationships in the highly heterogeneous Arab community of Camp Trad in the Greater Beirut municipality of Borj Hammoud. Based on field work carried out from 1971-2004, 1 found that learning desire was a lifelong process, constantly relearned and re-taught as women and men aged and changed relationships and statuses. Learning desire shifted in day-to-day practices, across the multiple nexus of positionalities that women and men occupied in relationship to each other. Learning and teaching desire were mutually constituted processes incumbent upon and embraced by all residents in relationship to significant others. Relational pedagogies were as productive of relational desires, in the context of relational selfhood, as were relational desires productive of relational pedagogies. While multiple patterns of self and desire were and remain evident from the 1970s to the present in Camp Trad, patterns of relational selfhood, which I have called patriarchal connectivity (Joseph 1993b), have been sufficiently reproduced to warrant consideration of the implications of constructs of relational (connective) selfhood for notions of relational desire. I suggest that the production of relational selves, in Camp Trad, incited the constitution and experience of relational desire such that answering the question of, "What do SUAD JOSEPH 81 women want?" must be addressed within the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9579
Print ISSN
1552-5864
Pages
pp. 79-109
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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