Mahjar Identity Politics and Transnationalism
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.
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