Number 52 (2008)

Arab-American Literature and Culture

Edited by Alfred Hornung and Martina Kohl

Introduction

The current edition of the American Studies Journal has its roots in the Third U.S. Embassy Teacher Academy which took place in the fall of 2005 in Bad Kreuznach. The conference was jointly organized by the U.S. Embassy, the American Studies Department of Mainz University and the Atlantische Akademie Rheinland Pfalz. It focused on “Arab American Literature and Culture” and thus a minority that drew a lot of attention in the U.S. and abroad after the tragic events of September 11.

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Arab-American Literature: Origins and Developments

Although Arab-American literature has been in existence in the U.S. for over a century, it has only recently begun to be recognized as part of the ethnic landscape of literary America. However, the last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in publication by Arab-American writers. This literary burgeoning reflects in part the shifting historical, social, and political contexts that have pushed Arab-Americans to the foreground, creating both new spaces for their voices and new urgencies of expression, as well as the flourishing creativity of these writers.

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Transnational Communication among Arab Americans in Detroit: Dimensions, Determinants, and Attitudinal Consequences

The present report summarizes findings from the Detroit Arab American Study pertaining to transnational activities and experiences, particularly those involving communication with the Arab Middle East. In today’s increasingly globalized environment, it is easier than in the past to maintain transnational connections. Indeed, many immigrants of recent decades were undoubtedly participants in transnational networks involving ties to the United States before they came to this country. On the other hand, the intensity of participation in these networks may gradually diminish after years in the United States.

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The Arab American Way: The Success Story of an American Family from a Syrian Village in Global Diaspora

Nowadays, it is possible to encounter people who are able to trace their roots back to Arab countries in almost every nation of the “New World.” That also includes approximately four million citizens of the United States, who live primarily in large metropolitan areas and in the eastern part of the country. Taking a large family and the associated clan of this group as an example, it is possible to show how Arab migrants, dispersed all over the globe, associate the different underlying conditions in countries of democratic America.

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Challenges Facing the Arab American Community from a Legal Perspective

This paper focuses on contemporary issues facing the Arab population vis-à-vis the American legal system. While Arab Americans enjoy the same basic rights enshrined in the federal and various state Constitutions, some of them have been subjected to various forms of discrimination that have infringed upon these basic rights. I will survey these areas as follows: racial discrimination, hate crimes, civil rights (including racial profiling and immigration), and employment. The paper concludes with a discussion on various means to prevent discriminatory practices with specific recommendations for the classroom.

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Arab Americans in Literature and the Media

Hollywood has a long history of stereotyping the Arab. From The Cafe in Cairo to The Siege, this Arab – invariably male – figures as the religious fundamentalist who sees in terrorism the only way to spread Islam over the entire globe. Having said this, this is not to argue either that Hollywood is ideologically corrupt, or that Arab (Americans) are the only ethnic group stereotyped in Hollywood’s cultural imagination. Yet while Hollywood’s Orientalism, which is actually based on a fascination with ancient Middle Eastern heritage, reflects a stereotypical depiction of everything Arab, Arab American literature can be seen as the other side of this projection or stereotype. Where Hollywood dramatizes, through the busting of ancient statues for the cause of terrorism, the Arab’s disregard for his own culture, novels such as Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Nada Awar Jarrar’s Somewhere, Home set out to preserve precisely a distinct cultural heritage, and go on to celebrate the contemporaneity and complexity of diasporic Afghan and Lebanese experience.

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From Sheikh to Terrorist? Arab Characters in American Film

The following text provides a brief discussion on how to integrate visual materials such as the film The Wind and the Lion (1975) in the EFL classroom when discussing the use of stereotypes in Hollywood productions especially in regards to Arab culture. The ideas were gathered in a workshop during the Teacher Academy 2005 and summarized for this publication.

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Muslim Americans in American Society—and in the German Classroom

Muslim Americans are newcomers on the ESL teaching agenda in Germany—and it is not only because of 9/11 that this minority group has moved into the focus of interest. Developments in German society have contributed to this situation. This article provides an outline of some basic ideas concerning Landeskunde Intercultural Studies, followed by an outline of ideas concerning a project on ‘Muslims in the U.S.’ based on teaching experience gained in a grade 12 classroom.

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Amazing Acrobatics of Language:
The Theatre of Yussef El Guindi

Despite the importance of minority rights movements and literatures of migration within the last century’s history of the humanities, no light has been shed so far on the life and arts of Arab Americans. While there is a tradition of Arab American writers and poets, it is often claimed that ‘Arab American Theatre’ was born on September 11. This article will start from general reflections on the development and forms of Arab American theatre in the United States and will in its main body concentrate on the works of Egyptian-born playwright Yussef El Guindi.

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Mosques in North America

The following article derived from an exhibit catalogue put together by Public Affairs Germany in the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and the U.S. Consulates in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf and accompanied Dr. Omar Khalidi’s photo exhibit “Mosques in America.” There are over 2,000 mosques in the United States, mostly housed in buildings originally built for other purposes. American mosques built in the last few decades, however, in the period in which Islam has begun to feel at home in the United States, are almost universally architect-designed.

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