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Post-9/11 Representations of Arab Men by Arab American Women Writers

Affirmation and Resistance

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Marta Bosch-Vilarrubias

Post-9/11 Representations of Arab Men by Arab American Women Writers: Affirmation and Resistance examines the portrayals of Arab masculinities in novels published after September 11, 2001, by women of Arab descent in the United States. The book provides a historical account of the mainstream representations of Arab masculinities in the United States, using them as a contrast to the realities experienced by Arab men in the American diaspora. Considering the construction of male and female Arab American identities, this book illustrates the role of feminism in Arab American literature written by women and its influence on women’s depictions of Arab men. Through an analysis of representative works by Diana Abu-Jaber, Laila Halaby, and Randa Jarrar, among others, this volume demonstrates how Arab American women’s anti-racist and anti-sexist struggles inform their nuanced portrayals of Arab men. This book will be essential for professors and students of ethnic American literatures in general and Arab American studies in particular, as well as for those interested in women’s studies and masculinity studies.
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Chapter One: (De)Constructing Arab Masculinities in the United States: The Racialization and Sexualization of Arab Masculinity in America

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  CHAPTER ONE

(De)Constructing Arab Masculinities in the United States: The Racialization and Sexualization of Arab Masculinity in America

 

In ignorance, many Americans think of Arabs, Turks, and Iranians as one ethnic group; forget that not all Arabs are Muslims; and fail to understand that peoples in the Middle East are as diverse as those found in the United States. (Hamilton 259)

Marsha J. Hamilton, in her article “The Image of Arabs in Sources of US Culture,” highlights the misconceptions Americans have about people of Arab descent. In the United States, Arabs are commonly equated with Muslims and regarded as a homogeneous group. However, diversity abounds in the Arab world in terms of ethnicity, history, and religion. The perception of Arabs as a group stems from the post-colonial union of Arabic-speaking countries. Originating from a linguistic coalition, Arabic-speaking countries allied in 1945 in the Arab League, constituted by Arabic-speaking states from North Africa (the Maghreb) and Western Asia (the Middle East) that joined forces in political, economic, and cultural cooperation.1

Through the Arab League, Arabs historically organized themselves as a community united by their use of the Arabic language. This linguistic, cultural, and political association of Arab states has undoubtedly contributed to the Western view of Arabs as a group. Even though Arabic-speaking individuals from different Arab countries differ in their skin color, dress code, history, culture, and even religion, in the West’s view of Arabs...

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