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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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Haunted Houses

(p.211) Afterword
American Arabesque

Jacob Rama Berman

NYU Press

This afterword describes the main house of the Longwood Plantation, where the owner's wife planned on holding balls and social events. Described by its owner as an “oriental remembrance of times past,” the octagonal structure stands six stories high and is capped by a large onion dome. By translating the exotic into the familiar geography of the antebellum American South, the owner co-opted an Arabo-Islamic cultural referent as a sign of his wealth, power, and influence. However, although the architect and his men had erected the exterior structure of Longwood by 1861, the interior was never completed. Ultimately, the house is an odd Oriental ruin of antebellum America's obsession with Arabo-Islamic forms, as well as a reminder of the role those forms played in conjuring transcendental and transhistorical fantasies of American identity.

Keywords:   Longwood Plantation, antebellum American South, Arabo-Islamic culture, American identity

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