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Between the Middle East and the Americas

The Cultural Politics of Diaspora

Ella Habiba Shohat

Publication Year: 2013

Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora traces the production and circulation of discourses about "the Middle East" across various cultural sites, against the historical backdrop of cross-Atlantic Mahjar flows. The bo

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora is a collaborative project that was probably in the making long before we actually began conceptualizing it in 2003. Growing up in the wake of our families’ displacement from Iraq, and having lived in multiple geographies as part of complex...


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pp. 1-62

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1. The Cultural Politics of “the Middle East” in the Americas: An Introduction

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pp. 3-41

Shuttling between Rio de Janeiro and Fez, the hit Brazilian soap opera or telenovela O Clone tells the tale of the forbidden yet enduring love between a Catholic Brazilian man and a Muslim Moroccan woman. To an audience increasingly curious about Islam and the Middle East, the series, which had its début shortly...

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2. The Sephardi-Moorish Atlantic: Between Orientalism and Occidentalism

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pp. 42-62

The question of beginnings in relation to Edward Said’s book Orientalism can be narrated in very diverse ways, leading to a potentially productive question: when and where does Orientalism, and the critique of Orientalism, actually begin? On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of Said’s book, it is instructive...

Nation, Culture, and Representation

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pp. 63-192

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3. Mahjar Legacies: A Reinterpretation

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pp. 65-79

In the opening lines of his 1930 Arabian travel narrative, Ameen Rihani locates himself with an Orientalist contradiction. Positioned within the “Syrian Colony of New York” and with access to its modes of modern print culture, the Lebanese émigré author nevertheless seeks “knowledge” from a provincial Arabian...

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4. Turcos in the Mix: Corrupting Arabs in Brazil’s Racial Democracy

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pp. 80-95

Turco (Turk) has served as a general designation for “Middle Easterner” in Brazil for more than a century. Coined by late nineteenth-century Brazilian elites to denigrate Syrian and Lebanese immigrants as economic pariahs, the term of difference today continues to attribute an alleged shrewdness to Brazilians...

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5. From “Baisanos” to Billionaires: Locating Arabs in Mexico

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pp. 96-107

In a popular U.S. newspaper column called “¡Ask a Mexican!” a reader wrote the following to columnist Gustavo Arellano in April 2009. Dear Mexican: First of all, don’t think that I’m a self-loathing Mexican. . . . For some strange reason, I have developed an intense fascination with...

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6. Ali Bla Bla’s Double-Edged Sword: Argentine President Carlos Menem and the Negotiation of Identity

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pp. 108-129

In November 2001, while former Argentine president Carlos Menem was under house arrest in relation to an illegal arms deal investigation, the Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona came to visit him wearing a black turban.1 How can we begin to understand Maradona’s flamboyant gesture of support for the...

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7. They Hate Our Freedom, But We Love Their Belly Dance: The Spectacle of the Shimmy in Contemporary U.S. Culture

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pp. 130-152

At a nearby Moroccan, Turkish, Lebanese, Greek, or Mediterranean restaurant, belly dancers contribute to the general ambiance of the dining experience. In the local gym, belly dancing classes have been added to the menu of New Age exercise options, guaranteed to tone women’s bodies in addition to improving...

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8. From Arab Terrorists to Patriotic Arab Americans: Representational Strategies in Post-9/11 TV Dramas

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pp. 153-175

In 2004, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) accused the TV drama 24 of perpetuating stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims.1 CAIR objected to the persistent portrayal of Arabs and Muslims in the context of terrorism, stating that “repeated association of acts of terrorism with Islam will only serve to increase...

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9. When Pakistanis Became Middle Eastern: Visualizing Racial Targets in the Global War on Terror

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pp. 176-192

This essay examines the incorporation of Muslim identities into the U.S. racial formation through the recent War on Terror campaign that has collapsed the boundaries of race, culture, and religion. The history of these categories of race-making are particularly vexing in the case of U.S. populations of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, broadly racialized...

Diaspora, Transnation, and Translation

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pp. 193-207

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10. “A Strip, A Land, A Blaze”: Arab American Hip-Hop and Transnational Politics

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pp. 195-213

There is an emerging generation of Arab American youth that has come of age listening to the sounds of rap and that is now using hip-hop as a medium to address the question of Arab American identity as well as histories of nation, migration, racism, war, and colonialism. If hip-hop was described as “the Black CNN” by Chuck D of Public...

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11. Muslim Digital Diasporas and the Gay Pornographic Cyber Imaginary

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pp. 214-230

In recent years, Arab American youth have been capitalizing on the potential and reach of digital technology to help create a virtual public sphere for participation, networking, and activism. The rampant developments in cyber technologies have enabled the rise of digital diasporic communities in the United States where Arab migrants...

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12. Drawing the Line: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Mohammed Cartoons Controversy as It Unfolded in Denmark and the United States

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pp. 231-251

Images of angry Muslims in Africa and the Middle East torching Scandinavian embassies, stomping on Danish flags, and chanting death threats against Danish cartoonists and politicians circulated the world in the first months of 2006. The immediate cause of the anger was twelve cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published...

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13. Turcophobia or Turcophilia: Politics of Representing Arabs in Latin America

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pp. 252-263

Upon gaining their independence from Spain, Latin American countries began the process of constructing their new national identities. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Latin American intellectuals and writers started invoking an image of the Orient in general, and the Arab Other in particular, to assert a civilized...

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14. User-Friendly Islams: Translating Rumi in France and the United States

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pp. 264-281

In the 1960s and 1970s, numerous Anglophone poets and readers discovered Rumi, the thirteenth-century mystic, thinker, and poet who was born in Vakhsh (contemporary Tajikistan), lived most of his life and died in Konya (contemporary Turkey), and wrote in Persian.1 The affinities between several strands of the New Age...

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15. “Axising” Iran: The Politics of Domestication and Cultural Translation

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pp. 282-298

On May 8, 2006, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent George W. Bush a letter—the first, formal, direct contact with a U.S. president by an Iranian leader since 1980. The official U.S. response to the eighteen-page letter, replete with religious references and condemnations of U.S. foreign policy, was dismissal...

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16. “The Uneven Bridge of Translation”: Turkey in between East and West

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pp. 299-318

On the home page of the official website for the Office of Turkish Culture and Tourism there is a music video clip showing a digital billboard advertising Turkey juxtaposed over the neon-lit Nasdaq building in Times Square. The song that plays, “Here I Am” from Turkish pop singer Sertap Erener’s recent English-language...


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pp. 319-321


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pp. 323-334

E-ISBN-13: 9780472028771
E-ISBN-10: 0472028774
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472069446
Print-ISBN-10: 0472099442

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 19 B&W illustrations
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Arabs -- Ethnic identity.
  • Arabs -- Social conditions.
  • Arab Americans -- Ethnic identity.
  • Arab Americans -- Social conditions.
  • Arabs -- Western countries -- Ethnic identity.
  • Arabs -- Western countries -- Social conditions.
  • Middle East -- Relations -- United States.
  • United States -- Relations -- Middle East.
  • Middle East -- Relations -- Western countries.
  • Western countries -- Relations -- Middle East.
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