Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil

Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil

Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil

Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil

Synopsis

Offering a novel approach to the study of ethnicity in the neoliberal market, Another Arabesque is the first full-length book in English to focus on the estimated seven million Arabs in Brazil. With insights gained from interviews and fieldwork, John Tofik Karam examines how Brazilians of Syrian-Lebanese descent have gained greater visibility and prominence as the country has embraced its globalizing economy, particularly its relations with Arab Gulf nations. At the same time, he recounts how Syrian-Lebanese descendents have increasingly self-identified as "Arabs." Karam demonstrates how Syrian-Lebanese ethnicity in Brazil has intensified through market liberalization, government transparency, and consumer diversification. Utilizing an ethnographic approach, he employs current social and business phenomena as springboards for investigation and discussion. Uncovering how Arabness appears in places far from the Middle East, Another Arabesque makes a new and valuable contribution to the study of how identity is formed and shaped in the modern world.

Excerpt

Nearing Avenida Paulista (Paulista Avenue) in uptown São Paulo on a cool evening in 2001, I follow the public signs of Arabness. I first come across Habib’s Arab fast-food restaurant. Preparing almost half of the estimated 1.2 million esfihas (“Arab” meat pies) sold daily in the city, the chain is ignored by professionals who drive in the direction of posh Syrian–Lebanese restaurants up the street. I proceed toward Club Homs on the main avenue. Hailed as “the house of Arabs,” it is one of a half-dozen Middle Eastern country clubs in the area. On this night, the club is hosting a chic commemoration of the National Day of Syria. Passing through the security gate, I join a cadre of mostly Arab and some non-Arab Brazilians. Among the eminent businessmen in attendance is a third-generation Syrian–Lebanese who has been praised by President Cardoso for training Brazilian executives in how to export to the Arab world. the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce over which he presides is located just across the avenue. Also present are dozens of foreign dignitaries and national politicians, such as a second-generation Lebanese city councilor who leads the annual Lebanese independence day event in the São Paulo city government. Her honored guests the previous year included physicians of Lebanese descent who practice at the award-winning Syrian–Lebanese Hospital just two blocks off the main avenue.

That such an arabesque winds through and beyond Avenida Paulista may seem puzzling. After all, Avenida Paulista is hardly an Arab space. Considered the “postcard of São Paulo,” it guides the country’s current neoliberal experiment. Attracting increased flows of foreign capital since the 1970s, Avenida . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.