Abstract

Khater contends that the historiography of the Middle East remains constrained by insufficiently examined geographical categories. The Middle East remains tethered and landlocked into a state of “Otherness” because of essentialized, static narratives that neglect the movement of people across its boundaries. Immigration, diaspora, and transnational experiences are, with rare exceptions, footnotes in histories of the Middle East; Khater’s essay presents the experience of early Arab immigration from the Eastern Mediterranean as a counterpoint to those tendencies. He explores how the idea and identification of being “Syrian” was articulated by several hundred thousand peasants immigrating from Mount Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine to the Americas and explores how their religious identities were mapped unto the racial identities prevalent in the United States (as well as in Australia and South Africa) to construct an ethnicity out of “Syrianness.” Khater uses the concept and practices of diasporic transnationalism as a first step toward providing a globalized history and geography of the Middle East; at the same time, this case study from the turn of the twentieth century provides a longer genealogy of transnationalism, endowing it with a historical dimension that is too often lacking in similar accounts.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-1568
Print ISSN
1044-2057
Pages
pp. 299-331
Launched on MUSE
2009-10-08
Open Access
No
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