Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism

Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism

Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism

Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

I was born in San Francisco, three years after my parents arrived to the United States from Jordan. 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, an abstract, ephemeral notion of what we do and what we believe, of who belongs and who does not. Culture seemed to be the way that my parents exercised their control over me and my siblings. The same fight, I knew from my aggrieved conversations with friends and relatives, was playing out in the homes of countless other Arab families. The typical generational wars—about whether we teenagers could stay out late at night, or whether we could spend the night at our friends’ slumber parties—was amplified into a grand cultural struggle. The banalities of adolescent rebellion became a battle between two “cultures,” between rigid versions of “Arab” and “American” values. To discipline us, our parents’ generation invoked the royal “we,” as in, “No, you can’t go to the school dance, because we don’t do that.” Here, “we” meant “Arabs.”

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.