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Arab America

Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism

Nadine Naber

Publication Year: 2012

Arab Americans are one of the most misunderstood segments of the U.S. population, especially after the events of 9/11. In Arab America, Nadine Naber tells the stories of second generation Arab American young adults living in the San Francisco Bay Area, most of whom are political activists engaged in two culturalist movements that draw on the conditions of diaspora, a Muslim global justice and a Leftist Arab movement.
 
Writing from a transnational feminist perspective, Naber reveals the complex and at times contradictory cultural and political processes through which Arabness is forged in the contemporary United States, and explores the apparently intra-communal cultural concepts of religion, family, gender, and sexuality as the battleground on which Arab American young adults and the looming world of America all wrangle.  As this struggle continues, these young adults  reject Orientalist thought, producing counter-narratives that open up new possibilities for transcending the limitations of Orientalist, imperialist, and conventional nationalist articulations of self, possibilities that ground concepts of religion, family, gender, and sexuality in some of the most urgent issues of our times: immigration politics, racial justice struggles, and U.S. militarism and war.

Published by: NYU Press

Contents

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pp. v-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

This book was born collectively, through ongoing relations with friends, colleagues, and activists. Yet ultimately, I take full responsibility for the content and any errors on the pages that follow. First and foremost, I acknowledge with deep respect and gratitude each person who participated in m...

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Introduction: Articulating Arabness

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pp. 1-24

was born in San Francisco, three years after my parents arrived to the United States from Jordan.1 Over the next twenty years, my family moved several times across the Bay Area, creating for me a childhood and a sense of community that was both rigidly structured and ever changing. Throughout my childhood, “culture” felt like a tool..

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1. From Model Minority to Problem Minority

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pp. 25-62

In the 1990s, Arab immigrants who had come to the Bay Area between the ’50s and the ’70s spoke about their early years in America with a sense of nostalgia reminiscent of conventional immigrant stories. They dwelled on positive experiences about their homelands and idealized their first years in their new country. Yet these immigrants had a distinct story about the past and the present—one that sheds...

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2. The Politics of Cultural Authenticity

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pp. 63-110

Arab culture is about being a certain way; knowing what is abe (shameful); knowing how to give mujamalat (flattery); knowing what you’re supposed to do when someone greets you; knowing how to act at azayim (gatherings) and weddings; drinking , shai (tea) or coffee; talking about politics so much; getting up for an older person; respecting your elders; looking after your parents and taking care...

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3. Muslim First, Arab Second

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pp. 111-158

Rima: One of the Arab sisters who married a Black Muslim opened the Qur’an in her father’s face and said, “Look, it says here, as long as he’s a good Muslim.” [Her father] wasn’t practicing true Islam. If he did, life would be a lot different. Mohammed: Next week, a movie is going to come out of Hollywood . . . called Executive Decision. It’s a blatant...

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4. Dirty Laundry

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pp. 159-202

Aisha: When I graduated from college, I worked for Global Exchange, a soft-left human rights organization in San Francisco, but constantly bumped into limitations with the American liberal line on Palestine. They wanted to focus only on oversimplified human rights abuses but not about the colonial devastation in the Middle East and...

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5. Diasporic Feminist Anti-Imperialism

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pp. 203-246

In 2000, Raya, Dahlia, Yara, Aisha, and I were involved in the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, San Francisco chapter (AWSA SF), which was working closely with LAM. During this time, AWSA SF activists made a postcard to distribute at various political events. One side included information about the U.S. sanctions on Iraq. The other side had an artistic image with the words “the Arab Women’s Solidarity...

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Conclusion: Toward a Diasporic Feminist Critique

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pp. 247-254

Throughout this book we have witnessed what young adults are saying about the predicaments of Arab diasporas in the United States at the turn of the twenty-first century. We have seen the continuities and discontinuities between what takes place within themselves, their families, and their communities and the ways they engage with the United States at large. Like so many diasporic communities, Arab...

Notes

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pp. 255-272

Bibliography

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pp. 273-292

Index

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pp. 293-309

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About the Author

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pp. 310-

Nadine Naber is Associate Professor in the Program in American Culture and the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. She is co-editor...


E-ISBN-13: 9780814759202
E-ISBN-10: 081475886X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814758861

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Arab Americans -- Social conditions.
  • Arab American women -- Social conditions.
  • Arab Americans -- Ethnic identity.
  • Arab Americans -- Politics and government.
  • Sex role -- United States.
  • Feminist theory.
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