A project in its experimental stage, What’s the Arabic for trauma? is lead by its founder, Nora Parr. The idea developed as a byproduct of PhD research at SOAS, University of London. The question consolidated while teaching at King’s College, London. Scope broadened through collaborations with Creative Multilingualism and the Beyond Trauma project at SOAS, and is currently being developed with the University of Birmingham through the Rights for Time network. This page is meant to house all of the different links, stages, and contributions on the road toward an answer to the question.

Erm, what?

Ha, that’s what my mom says. The idea is that existing trauma theory doesn’t help unpack contemporary Arabic writing about experiences of harm or violence. Most basic, is that in existing trauma theory, ‘trauma’ is understood as the state or reaction to an extraordinary experience of profound violence. This model cannot account for experience of harm and violence that are in fact inscribed in the everyday (the ‘shock’ of a train crash, vs the monotony of an occupation, for example). Read more here.

Have answers?

Do you?! Please get in touch! One of the ideas behind website is to broadcast the question and collect as many ideas and responses as possible. My own medium of research is Arabic Literature, but I’ve found mental health practitioners, historians, anthropologists and political scientists all have similar questions, but different approaches to answers, and key, different sources that can point to answers. If you have thoughts, please get in touch!


This is me! I’m Nora, I work on contemporary Arabic Literature and Palestine Studies. Sometimes I’m Comparative Literature, sometimes World Literature, sometimes I am Postcolonial Studies, and sometimes Middle East Studies! So many hats. But always the material is books (sometime poems that are sung, sometimes stories on film, and even painted stories, etc., etc.)

I’m fascinated by the worlds that books can bring us to, and the way words create universes we can dive into and unpack. I think a lot about the structures that those universes are made up of, and how we can identify and understand them!

To see examples of all this in action, check out my publications page.

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