This chapter discusses the results of an ethnographic fieldwork which investigated the ways the literary (specifically poetry) has evolved as a playing field of the secular. It shows how secularism was profoundly assumed in the ways Arabic poets in general, and Palestinian poets in particular, sought to modernize their tradition and make it relevant to their world. The modernizing poets' narratives—their “embedded philosophies”—most immediately resonate with secularism as a political doctrine of separation when they express its typical demand for detaching religion from politics. In transforming poetic concepts and practices, the secular in modern Arabic poetry has not only banished the religious but has also come to depend on it. This chapter examines Talal Asad's (2003) concept of the secular as a modern form of power and looks at the particular practices and concepts surrounding the techniques with which poets handle sound in their compositions.
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