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Mashriq & Mahjar 2, no. 2 (2014), 1-3 ISSN 2169-4435© Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies 2014 EDITORIAL FOREWORD Migrant journeys across, from, and toward the Middle East reveal novel scales of analysis in area and ethnic studies. With a focus on one such mapping, this issue of Mashriq & Mahjar brings readers to interrogate the vicissitudes of what historian Edmundo O’Gorman called the “invention of América.” Based in Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S., the articles in this issue locate the Middle East in American geographies, and this hemispheric America in relation to a shifting Middle East. Read together, they bridge transnational turns from the heretofore separate fields of, on the one hand, Middle East and Arab American studies, and on the other, Latin American and Latino studies. Drawing upon anthropology, comparative literature, and history, the kind of “Arab American studies” that emerges in these works is decidedly hemispheric. With a new approach to the magnum opus of one of Brazil’s most critically acclaimed writers, Silvia C. Ferreira focuses on the message of failed assimilation against the trope of agrarian space in Raduan Nassar’s Lavoura arcaica. Roughly translated as “Ancient Tillage” (and made into a film by Luiz Fernando Carvalho in 2001), the novel centers on the narrator, André, and his troubled ties with his family, of Levantine origins, in rural São Paulo. In contrast to dominant literary representations of Brazilians with Middle Eastern heritage as mobile peddlers, Ferreira finds that Nassar builds on lesser-remarked-upon themes of land and rooted dystopia in the hyphenated canon that she designates as “Levantine-Brazilian,” providing a novel point of reference for the understanding of migrant experiences and rooting processes. Turning to an elite interface between Middle Eastern and Latin American semiperipheries, Camila Pastor de Maria Campos traces the overlap and merging of Arab and Mexican nationalist visions, against the backdrop of their homologous unequal relationship to a Euro-American center. The author looks at the Arab nahda as an anti-colonial discourse whose subordinating dimension became evident among the migrant intelligentsia in Mexico. Writing in Interwar and post-World War II times, these mostly selfidentified Lebanese represented themselves as partnering with the postcolonial Mexican criollo ideologues, including the author of La Raza Cósmica himself, Jose Vasconcelos, in a broader civilizing mission, which would advance westernizing and modernizing attempts of indigenous peoples and backwards criollos. Mashriq & Mahjar 2, no. 2 (2014) Calling attention not to hierarchies but rather to solidarities cultivated on a transnational scale, Pamela Pennock writes U.S. Arab Americans back into the Third World struggles of which they were historically part but were downplayed in scholarship on the global 1960s and 1970s. She focuses on one social movement, the Organization of Arab Students, in its consciousnessraising about the Question of Palestine on U.S. university campuses and she provides a case-study of its branch at Wayne State University. There, students of Arab origin (migrants and descendants) endeavored to build alliances with a broad range of liberationist movements, from the Algerian Front for National Liberation to the black radicalism of Stokely Carmichael’s SNCC in the U.S.. The Arab America that took shape at that moment was part of a rising Third World. In addition to these three articles that position a Mashriq and a Mahjar in broader geographies of belonging, two articles take a fresh approach to U.S. Arab Americans’ engagement with the politics of Orientalism. Linda Jacobs looks at how Mashriqis “played east” in theatrical performances during the nineteenth century. These performances ranged from vaudeville and circus acts to “sober” lectures about the “East.” From “Arab” strong men in Buffalo Bills who killed “200 Turks,” to belly dancers in the World Fair in Chicago, to Syrians who travelled the country lecturing about the “Orient” to audiences that were seemingly hungry for the “exotic” Middle East. These selfconscious acts played to pre-existing American Orientalist in attempts to profit financially, yet it was one that only fed the orientalist imagination trapping the Middle East in scenes of desert, flowing robes, and swashbuckling stories. Decades later Arab American Christian restaurateurs made use of these latent images to sell...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2169-4435
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-13
Open Access
Yes
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