Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Bint Arab: Arab and Arab American Women in the United States

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Bint Arab: Arab and Arab American Women in the United States

Article excerpt

SHAKIR, Evelyn, BINT ARAB: Arab and Arab American Women in the United States. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997, 248 pp., $59.95 hardcover.

ROGAIA MUSTAFA ABUSHARAF

The migration of Arab women has received little attention in discourses of population movements in the Arab World. Prevailing societal ideologies have unquestionably been more confining to women compared to their male-counterparts. Cognizant of the cultural milieu within which migratory phenomenon takes place; Evelyn Shakir's book provided a detailed analysis of the Arab migration to the United States. The book is divided into three parts.

In part one, Shakir constructs a historiography of the first wave of Arab migration 1875-1925. Employing extensive interviews and case histories of Arab women, Shakir elucidates the background, characteristics and the macrostructural environment within which Arab immigrants arrived. The author paints an elegant portrait of the story of the assertive, unabashed and strong Syrian women who arrived at the American shores before the turn of this century. Shakir brings to light an understanding of the critical role that these women played in initiating migratory decisions, as well as in the molding the adaptive strategies after arriving on the American soil. Part two, subtitled: From Second Generation to Third, focuses the immigrants' experiences of Arabs in the receiving society. Shakir provided detailed description of the trials and travails of Arabs encountering political racism, discriminatory practices and prejudice by their hosts. In this discussion, Shakir presents a powerful narrative of immigrants' individual aptitude and capability to contrive sound strategies to overcome limitations and constraints. Of special interest, is how Arab women in particular were confronted with contextual forces that prompted them to organize, form alliances and join together for political action. …

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