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American ArabesqueArabs and Islam in the Nineteenth Century Imaginary$
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Jacob Rama Berman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814789506

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814789506.001.0001

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The Barbarous Voice of Democracy

The Barbarous Voice of Democracy

(p.31) 1 The Barbarous Voice of Democracy
American Arabesque

Jacob Rama Berman

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the figure of the captive through which the writers in the Federal era explored the continuum and the difference between Barbary and America. In particular, the claims for repatriation articulated by American-citizen captives in a foreign land are based on a recognition of their country's need to litigate the domestic relationship between master and slave. Moreover, captives translated Barbary referents into American tropes of identity. Ultimately, Barbary types such as Turks, Arabs, and Moors allowed Federal-era readers to negotiate American racial classifications, the limits of American democratic inclusion, and the fantasy of America's exceptional difference through exotic proxies. In the decades that followed, tropes of the Arab were adapted by other American writers, resulting to the emergence of the genre of the Near Eastern travel narrative.

Keywords:   Federal era, Barbary, American-citizen captives, American identity, Barbary captivity narratives, American literature, Near Eastern travel narrative

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