Stranger Tiimes

Stranger times is an attitude to the contemporary that attends to how strangers stay alive outside their usual habitats. It reflects on the figure of the stranger in relation to the politics and temporalities of the contemporary. I define the stranger as a person who is paradoxically liberated yet fixed into tribal and national structures.  I take Syrian strangers as an extreme case of this relation to the contemporary that I term stranger times. Like many other places around the world, Syrians became strangers under pressure from processes of acceleration of production and the eternalization of tyrannical modes of rule. For my arguments, I select Syrian films and textual narratives that depict the stranger in various contexts. As I trace the figure of the stranger in 40 years of Syrian cultural production, I explore how the figure of the stranger apprehends, constructs and organizes the contemporary. Arriving upon inhabited places, the stranger has a past that is unpredictable and unknown to her interlocutors. She intrudes, is out of synch, like a freshly born infant that has not yet learned the times of day. The strangers that I examine survive through intrusions into a market and political sphere that has no place for them. Some translate, others communicate by other means. All accelerate their step, and seek to acquire a new past and a new language that can root them in this new environment.