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Hazem Azmy

Thesis: Staging Egypt on Global Stages: Theatre, Identity Dialogics, and the Post-9/11 Empty Signifier
 
 
Research Summary:
 
In this practice-informed research, the researcher will rehearse four overlapping, scholarly-based modes of the dramaturg's practice -- viz., translation, production dramaturgy, teaching, and civic engagement. Specific reference will be made to a number of Egyptian/Arab and English-language Western dramatic texts, all in translation into either English or Arabic respectively. In so doing, the researcher will seek to demonstrate that foreign-text theatre serves a crucial role in re-imagining local identities but also in re-articulating hidden commonalities within and across seemingly disparate sites of the globalizing process: in this case, Egypt and Britain. Thus, in addition to its obvious potential merits in terms of understanding the Other, a dramaturgical encounter between "post-9/11 Egypt" and "post-7/7 Britain" may ultimately present each of the two socio-cultural locations with fresh insights into their very own vexed identities. For Slavoj Zizek, such a mutual dynamic represents an eternal quest for all-pervasive "Empty Signifier". As he defines it, it is a sign with an ever-elusive signified escaping the grasp of both the Self and the Other alike and thus becoming in its tantalizing "emptiness" a productive space for shared comparative reflection.
 
Professional and Academic Background:
 
Before joining Warwick, Hazem was based in his home country, Egypt, where he had an extensive career as theatre and interdisciplinary humanities scholar, university teacher, professional translator, dramaturg, cross-cultural speaker, and frequent contributor to scholarly, trade, and popular publications. Most noteworthy in terms of his international contributions, he is the author of the entire portfolio on Egypt (15 entries) in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance, ed. Dennis Kennedy (Oxford University Press, 2003). He is also the Editor of The Experimental, the English-language daily of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (CIFET).
 
He holds an Honours BA in English language and literature from Ain Shams University, Egypt and an MA in English and comparative literature from The American University in Cairo. Since 2003, he has been Assistant Lecturer in English at Beni Suef University, Egypt. Also, from 1999 till 2006, he was coordinator at the Arabic and Translation Studies Division, CACE in the American University in Cairo, where he had also been working as instructor of translation since 1993. In both capacities, he developed and taught many of the division's core courses, particularly ones related to the translation and analysis of cultural, media, and audio-visual texts. He also served occasionally as workshop facilitator and teacher trainer.
 
In 1998, he created his widely-acclaimed webpage CyberBabel, a compendium of translation and language-related web resources. The website became the basis for the ATS core curriculum offering, TRAN 508: Research Tools for Translators.
 
Hazem's MA thesis (The Pursuit of Absence: Dramaturgy and the Interface between the World and the Text) sought to apply aspects of post-structuralist theory to the still-unknown function and practice of the dramaturg, making the English-language research piece the first of its kind in Egypt.
 
This interest in the intersection of the world and the text continues to inform his current doctoral research and related professional activities as dramaturg and translator, all of which seeking to trace the operations of Egyptian and Arab cultures and identities within the context of today's ("post 9/11") international scene. As such, he has been one of the driving forces behind the formation of a new Arabic Theatre Working Group at the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR/FIRT). Also in this connection, he is the founding owner and moderator of the listserve AITheatre: Arabo-Islamic Theatre Forum.
 
 
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Hazem Azmy