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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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Arab Masquerade

Arab Masquerade

Mahjar Identity Politics and Transnationalism

(p.179) 5 Arab Masquerade
American Arabesque

Jacob Rama Berman

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the emergence of Arab American literary self-representation by moving through a historiography of Arab migration to America and toward an analysis of Ameen Rihani's literary and political writings. Positioned at the headwaters of an indigenous Arab intellectual reawakening (the nahdah) and a migrant Arab political consciousness (the mahjar), Rihani articulates a vision of Arab identity that embraces arabesque self-representation as a form of empowerment. Eventually, the literary strategies of self-representation that Rihani employs translate into the political strategies informing pan-Arabism. Indeed, Rihani's goal is the formation of a pan-Arab identity that self-consciously blends Orient and Occident, modern and traditional, Islamic and Christian, America and Arabia to create mahjar or migrant identity.

Keywords:   Arab American self-representation, literary self-representation, Arab migration, Ameen Rihani, nahdah, mahjar, Arab identity, pan-Arabism, pan-Arab identity, migrant identity

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