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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Lamma is an academic journal that aims to provide a forum for understanding critically 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 as wide a range of disciplines, sources, and approaches as possible, foregrounding especially those that have previously received less scholarly attention. Lamma is a space where these fields interact and draw from one another. It is a platform where scholars and students from inside and outside of Libya gather to redefine and reshape “Libyan Studies.” For these reasons the journal takes its name from the Arabic word lamma “a gathering.”

Volume 1, Issue 0, 2020

Issue cover


Re-Centering Libya’s History: Mediterranean Bulwark, Defender of Africa, or Bridge between Continents?

This paper discusses Libya’s geo-historical identity from the Italian colonial period until the end of the Qaddafi regime. It specifically looks at characterizations of the country as Mediterranean or African in the different periods. By examining the historiographic discourse in Italian and Arabic as well as the political aesthetics and symbolisms connected with the colonial and the Qaddafi regimes, the article shows how varying characterizations were linked to geo-political agendas. Finally, it presents a third characterization: that of Libya as a connecting link between regions and continents, which has become prominent in more recent times.

The Construction of Virility and Performance of Masculinities in the Language Practices of Young Men in Tripoli

This article analyzes the socio/linguistic construction of gender in Arabic in Tripoli, showing how young Libyan men make use virile and masculine speech practices as part of their performance of gender. Analyzing the interactions of a group of young men through participant observation and a resulting corpus of spontaneous recordings of speech, this article shows how, in their self-expression, certain young Libyan men perform their speech practices towards hegemonic, gendered goals, exalting virilizing values and foregrounding heterosexism by means of transgressive language practices. These language practices express domination, heterosexism, and homosociality, permitting them to distinguish themselves from women and others discursively and interactively constructed as inferiors, in order to validate their existence as dominant males.

“The Whole Shadow of Man”: Alessandro Spina’s Libyan Epic

Including two translated excerpts from The Fourth Shore, Volume 2 of The Confines of the Shadow

A Pool of Water: Perspectives on the Libyan Revolution

Review article of: Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between; Peter Cole and Brian McQuinn, eds., The Libyan Revolution and Its Aftermath; Christopher Chivvis, Toppling Qaddafi: Libya and the Limits of Liberal Intervention; Ethan Chorin, Exit the Colonel: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution; Maximilian Forte, Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa; Lindsey Hilsum, Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution; Alison Pargeter, Libya: The Rise and Fall of Qaddafi;