• November 27, 2014

Anatomy of a Serial-Plagiarism Charge

Mustapha Marrouchi’s extensive body of work includes books, peer-reviewed articles, and online essays; literary criticism and sociocultural analysis; commentary and memoir. It’s a diverse portfolio, but if you track it closely enough, a through line emerges: Passages from other authors regularly appear, nearly verbatim, without attribution.

With a sample size so large, and the echoes of other writers so resonant, his work provides a rare glimpse into the modus operandi of a scholar who fails to credit his sources. Some passages seem noteworthy for their brazenness; others just come across as kind of odd. Here’s a short guide to some of the most striking examples:

Bringing Out the Big Guns

Browse Mr. Marrouchi’s published work, and you’ll find turns of phrase drawn from of a Murderers' Row of writers, critics, and scholars: Salman Rushdie. Colm Tóibín. Edward Said. Louis Menand. Terry Eagleton and John Updike—more on them later. Slavoj Zizek. (Of course, Slavoj Zizek.) Here’s one of many Zizek parallels:

Slavoj Zizek
“Leninism Today: Zionism and the Jewish Question”
(Lacan.com, September 17, 2007)

The twists of contemporary politics render palpable a kind of Hegelian dialectical law: a fundamental historical task that 'naturally' expresses the orientation of one political block can only be accomplished by the opposite block. In Argentina a decade ago, it was Menem, elected on a populist platform, who pursued tight monetary politics and the IMF-agenda of privatizations much more radically than his 'liberal' market-oriented radical opponents.”

Mustapha Marrouchi
“Neither Their Perch Nor Their Terror:
Al-Qaida Limited”

(Callaloo, Volume 31, Number 4, Fall 2008)

“The irony of the situation in the US and elsewhere is shaped to a large degree by the twists and turns of 9/11, which render palpable a kind of Hegelian dialectical law: a fundamental historical task that 'naturally' expresses the orientation of one political block can only be accompanied by the opposite block. In the Arab world where the police state, corruption, and nepotism reign supreme, there is nothing but confusion and dictatorship from Syria to Morocco. It is a deplorable state of affairs.”

Slavoj Zizek
“Leninism Today: Zionism and the Jewish Question”
(Lacan.com, September 17, 2007)

 

The twists of contemporary politics render palpable a kind of Hegelian dialectical law: a fundamental historical task that 'naturally' expresses the orientation of one political block can only be accomplished by the opposite block. In Argentina a decade ago, it was Menem, elected on a populist platform, who pursued tight monetary politics and the IMF-agenda of privatizations much more radically than his 'liberal' market-oriented radical opponents.”

Mustapha Marrouchi
“Neither Their Perch Nor Their Terror:
Al-Qaida Limited”

(Callaloo, Volume 31, Number 4, Fall 2008)

 

“The irony of the situation in the US and elsewhere is shaped to a large degree by the twists and turns of 9/11, which render palpable a kind of Hegelian dialectical law: a fundamental historical task that 'naturally'expresses the orientation of one political block can only be accompanied by the opposite block. In the Arab world where the police state, corruption, and nepotism reign supreme, there is nothing but confusion and dictatorship from Syria to Morocco. It is a deplorable state of affairs.”

And here’s some text that seems to come from Rushdie. Oddly, Marrouchi used this passage in "On Algeria: Childhood and Fear," a work that is presented as memoir: On the professor's webpage, it is described as tracing "his childhood experiences in a small town in the High Atlas in the 1960s."

Salman Rushdie
“Imaginary Homelands”
(London Review of Books, October 7, 1982)

“A few years ago I revisited Bombay, which is my lost city, after an absence of something like half my life. Shortly after arriving, acting on an impulse, I opened the telephone directory and looked for my father’s name. And, amazingly, there it was: his name, our old address, the unchanged telephone number, as if we had never gone away to the unmentionable country across the border. It was an eerie discovery. I felt as if I were being claimed, or informed that the facts of my faraway life were illusions: that this—this continuity—was the reality.

Mustapha Marrouchi
“Of Algeria: Childhood and Fear”
(College Literature, Winter 2003)

“Arrouj said good-bye to the Honorary Consul and went straight back to his hotel where he had to stay until he could catch a plane to London the following Friday. Waiting in the lobby for the doorman to bring in his suitcase and acting on an impulse, he opened an old-yellowed telephone book and looked for his father's name. And, amazingly, there it was; their old address, the unchanged telephone number, as if the Qureishis had never gone away to the unmentionable country across the border. It was an eerie discovery. He felt as if he were being claimed, or informed that the facts of his faraway life were illusions, and that this continuity was the reality.

Salman Rushdie
“Imaginary Homelands”
(London Review of Books, October 7, 1982)

“A few years ago I revisited Bombay, which is my lost city, after an absence of something like half my life. Shortly after arriving, acting on an impulse, I opened the telephone directory and looked for my father’s name. And, amazingly, there it was: his name, our old address, the unchanged telephone number, as if we had never gone away to the unmentionable country across the border. It was an eerie discovery. I felt as if I were being claimed, or informed that the facts of my faraway life were illusions: that this—this continuity—was the reality.

Mustapha Marrouchi
“Of Algeria: Childhood and Fear”
(College Literature, Winter 2003)

“Arrouj said good-bye to the Honorary Consul and went straight back to his hotel where he had to stay until he could catch a plane to London the following Friday. Waiting in the lobby for the doorman to bring in his suitcase and acting on an impulse, he opened an old-yellowed telephone book and looked for his father's name. And, amazingly, there it was; their old address, the unchanged telephone number, as if the Qureishis had never gone away to the unmentionable country across the border. It was an eerie discovery. He felt as if he were being claimed, or informed that the facts of his faraway life were illusions, and that this continuity was the reality.

 

Strange Substitutions

In some cases, Mr. Marrouchi’s prose is virtually identical to that of another author, with one major exception: He applies the language to an entirely new topic. For example, a passage questioning Immanuel Kant’s interest in the arts is transmuted into a suggestion that Kant lacked a feel for the proletariat:

Frank Kermode
“Yearning for the ‘Utile’”
(London Review of Books, June 23, 2005)

“To answer the question asked in his title he begins at the beginning: since we attach so much importance to the idea, what, in fact, constitutes a work of art? It’s a newfangled notion—nobody could have asked such a question before the 18th century. Since then it has been a major cause of trouble, much of it stemming from Immanuel Kant—a man who spent his life in a backwater of East Prussia, cared little for the arts, and knew very little about them.

Mustapha Marrouchi
"The Fabric of Subcultures:
Networks, Ethnic Force Fields, and Peoples Without Power"

(Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2011)

“Since we attach so much importance to the idea of privilege, what, in fact, constitutes an ordinary work of art, say, For Bread Alone, written by a no less ordinary writer, Mohammed Chokri, a dilettante of sorts? It is a newfangled notion—nobody could have asked such a question before the birth of Pop Culture. Since then, it has been a major cause of trouble, much of it stemming from Immanuel Kant—a man who spent his life in a backwater of East Prussia, cared little for the common, and knew nothing about them.

Frank Kermode
“Yearning for the ‘Utile’”
(London Review of Books, June 23, 2005)

“To answer the question asked in his title he begins at the beginning: since we attach so much importance to the idea, what, in fact, constitutes a work of art? It’s a newfangled notion—nobody could have asked such a question before the 18th century. Since then it has been a major cause of trouble, much of it stemming from Immanuel Kant—a man who spent his life in a backwater of East Prussia, cared little for the arts, and knew very little about them.

Mustapha Marrouchi
"The Fabric of Subcultures:
Networks, Ethnic Force Fields, and Peoples Without Power"

(Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2011)

“Since we attach so much importance to the idea of privilege, what, in fact, constitutes an ordinary work of art, say, For Bread Alone, written by a no less ordinary writer, Mohammed Chokri, a dilettante of sorts? It is a newfangled notion—nobody could have asked such a question before the birth of Pop Culture. Since then, it has been a major cause of trouble, much of it stemming from Immanuel Kant—a man who spent his life in a backwater of East Prussia, cared little for the common, and knew nothing about them.

Even more strikingly, an examination of Samuel Beckett’s beyond-his-years froideur (!) is repurposed to refer instead to Kazuo Ishiguro. (In the process, some gramatically odd things seem to have happened: Try making sense of those em dashes.)

Anthony Lane
“Waiting”
(The New Yorker, March 30, 2009)

The Beckett who appears before us, in other words, in his middle to late twenties is already fully formed in his froideurs: another reason for one’s annoyance at the starting date of this edition, for one would dearly like to know if there was ever a time when his narrow-eyed distrust of worldly conventions—and what many of us would embrace as conventional pleasures—was not in place.

Mustapha Marrouchi
“Wait Upon Ishiguro, Englishness, and Class”
(CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, Volume 15, Issue 2, 2013)

“The Ishiguro who appears before us—although he is already fully formed in his froideurs suggests another reason for one's intention (and method) to deconstruct his works, for one would dearly like to know if there has ever been a time when his narrow-eyed distrust of worldly conventions and what many of us would embrace as conventional pleasures—is not in place.

Anthony Lane
“Waiting”
(The New Yorker, March 30, 2009)

The Beckett who appears before us, in other words, in his middle to late twenties is already fully formed in his froideurs: another reason for one’s annoyance at the starting date of this edition, for one would dearly like to know if there was ever a time when his narrow-eyed distrust of worldly conventions—and what many of us would embrace as conventional pleasures—was not in place.

Mustapha Marrouchi
“Wait Upon Ishiguro, Englishness, and Class”
(CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, Volume 15, Issue 2, 2013)

“The Ishiguro who appears before us—although he is already fully formed in his froideurs suggests another reason for one's intention (and method) to deconstruct his works, for one would dearly like to know if there has ever been a time when his narrow-eyed distrust of worldly conventions and what many of us would embrace as conventional pleasures—is not in place.

Suspicious Mash-Ups

Occasionally two apparently repurposed texts are fused into one. Here, Terry Eagleton’s exegesis of Waiting for Godot—Beckett again!—combines with John Updike’s appreciation of R.K. Narayan to become grist for Marrouchi’s book-length examination of “ethnic force fields.”

Terry Eagleton
"Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic"
(Wiley-Blackwell, 2002)

“But the view that everything is hypothetical is itself a hypothesis, and under risk of self-contradiction must calculate this truth into its reckoning. How can those bereft of certainty be sure that they are, if there can be no certainty? Godot’s absence may have plunged everything into ambiguity, but that must logically mean that there is no assurance that he will not come.”

John Updike
"Malgudi’s Master"
(The New Yorker, June 23, 1997)

The spread of English throughout the world, via commerce and colonialism, popular culture and the new global order, has spawned any number of fluent outriggers capable of contributing to English literature. Some, like most Australians and Canadians, write English with no thought of an alternative; others, like certain inhabitants of the Caribbean, Ireland, anglophone Africa, and India, write it against a background of native tongues or patois that are added, abandoned or suppressed in the creative effort—an effort that to a degree enlists them in a foreign if not “intimate enemy” camp, that of the dominant West.”

Mustapha Marrouchi
"The Fabric of Subcultures:
Networks, Ethnic Force Fields, and Peoples Without Power"

(Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2011)

“Meanwhile, the view that everything is hypothetical is itself a hypothesis, and at the risk of self-contradiction one must weigh this truth into its reckoning, for the ideology in question is not only that of literature, against which the scrupulous meanness of the postcolonial signature calculatedly sets its face, but more or less the spread of English (it could be French) throughout the world, via commerce and colonialism, popular culture and the new global order, which has spawned any number of fluent outriggers capable of contributing to English literature. Some, like most Australians and Canadians, write English with no thought of an alternative; others like certain inhabitants of the Caribbean, Ireland, Anglophone Africa, and India, write it against a background of native tongues or patois that are added, abandoned, or suppressed in the creative effort—an effort that to a degree enlists them in a foreign if not “intimate enemy” camp, that of the dominant West.”

Terry Eagleton
"Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic"
(Wiley-Blackwell, 2002)

“But the view that everything is hypothetical is itself a hypothesis, and under risk of self-contradiction must calculate this truth into its reckoning. How can those bereft of certainty be sure that they are, if there can be no certainty? Godot’s absence may have plunged everything into ambiguity, but that must logically mean that there is no assurance that he will not come.”

John Updike
"Malgudi’s Master"
(The New Yorker, June 23, 1997)

The spread of English throughout the world, via commerce and colonialism, popular culture and the new global order, has spawned any number of fluent outriggers capable of contributing to English literature. Some, like most Australians and Canadians, write English with no thought of an alternative; others, like certain inhabitants of the Caribbean, Ireland, anglophone Africa, and India, write it against a background of native tongues or patois that are added, abandoned or suppressed in the creative effort—an effort that to a degree enlists them in a foreign if not 'intimate enemy' camp, that of the dominant West.”

Mustapha Marrouchi
"The Fabric of Subcultures:
Networks, Ethnic Force Fields, and Peoples Without Power

(Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2011)

“Meanwhile, the view that everything is hypothetical is itself a hypothesis, and at the risk of self-contradiction one must weigh this truth into its reckoning, for the ideology in question is not only that of literature, against which the scrupulous meanness of the postcolonial signature calculatedly sets its face, but more or less the spread of English (it could be French) throughout the world, via commerce and colonialism, popular culture and the new global order, which has spawned any number of fluent outriggers capable of contributing to English literature. Some, like most Australians and Canadians, write English with no thought of an alternative; others like certain inhabitants of the Caribbean, Ireland, Anglophone Africa, and India, write it against a background of native tongues or patois that are added, abandoned, or suppressed in the creative effort—an effort that to a degree enlists them in a foreign if not 'intimate enemy' camp, that of the dominant West.”

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