The Lebanese Diaspora: The Arab Immigrant Experience in Montreal, New York, and Paris

The Lebanese Diaspora: The Arab Immigrant Experience in Montreal, New York, and Paris

The Lebanese Diaspora: The Arab Immigrant Experience in Montreal, New York, and Paris

The Lebanese Diaspora: The Arab Immigrant Experience in Montreal, New York, and Paris

Synopsis

The Lebanese are the largest group of Middle Eastern immigrants in the United States, and Lebanese immigrants are also prominent across Europe and the Americas. Based on over eighty interviews with first-generation Lebanese immigrants in the global cities of New York, Montreal and Paris, this book shows that the Lebanese diaspora – like all diasporas – constructs global relations connecting and transforming their new societies, previous homeland and world-wide communities. Taking Lebanese immigrants’ forms of identification, community attachments and cultural expression as manifestations of diaspora experiences, Dalia Abdelhady delves into the ways members of Lebanese diasporic communities move beyond nationality, ethnicity and religion, giving rise to global solidarities and negotiating their social and cultural spaces.

The Lebanese Diaspora explores new forms of identities, alliances and cultural expressions, elucidating the daily experiences of Lebanese immigrants and exploring new ways of thinking about immigration, ethnic identity, community, and culture in a global world. By criticizing and challenging our understandings of nationality, ethnicity and assimilation, Abdelhady shows that global immigrants are giving rise to new forms of cosmopolitan citizenship.

Excerpt

In December 2008 I set out to obtain an entry visa from the German Consulate in Cairo, preparing to attend an academic workshop there. I was in Cairo visiting my family and thought that spending a day of my vacation at the consulate would be better than taking the time from my busy teaching schedule in the us. After a long wait, I handed the receptionist the stack of required papers for my visa. She took one quick look at my papers and exclaimed that my application could not be processed at the consulate in Cairo, since the supporting documents originated in the United States (i.e., proof of employment, letter from the chair of my department promising that I would be returning to teach in the following semester, an invitation letter from the workshop organizers, my bank statements, hotel reservations, flight itinerary, and proof of health insurance coverage in Europe). She told me that I should apply for the visa in the United States. in a state of shock, I explained that I was not returning to the United States before the workshop and that I was holding my one and only passport that had been issued by the Egyptian government. She insisted that, in her view and that of the supervisors she had consulted upon my request, I was not Egyptian “enough.”

This stunned me, as I had never considered myself American (enough). Yet here I was being defined by my American employment and residential status. Despite my thirteen-year stay in the United States, I am not even a permanent resident. I still have to apply for an entry visa, marking me as nonAmerican every time I enter the country. I could not explain this dilemma to the receptionist. I could not tell her that I had never felt American, despite the various indicators of my successful assimilation. the reminders that I do not belong to American society are constant and numerous. Many are related to travel. With every visit to a foreign country, I must obtain an entry visa similar to the one I was seeking at the German Consulate in Cairo. Standing . . .

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