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

Affirmation and Resistance


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 Two: The Social and Identitary Construction of Arab and Arab American Masculinities


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The Social and Identitary Construction of Arab and Arab American Masculinities


Arab culture is about being a certain way; knowing what is abe (shameful); knowing how to give mujamalat (flattery); knowing what you’re supposed to do when someone greets you; knowing how to act at azayim (gatherings) and weddings; drinking shai (tea) or coffee; talking about politics so much; getting up for an older person; respecting your elders; looking after your parents and taking care of them; judging people according to what family they are from; marrying through connections; gossiping and having a good reputation; going anywhere with Arabs, with your own kind, with brothers, uncles, family, cousins, but not with Americans. (Nadine Naber 2012: 63)

Nadine Naber emphasizes in the above quote the differences between Arab and American cultures in her enumeration of traditional characteristics of Arabness, and points to the difficulty of making sense of an Arab American identity, while giving examples of first-generation Arab American views of what it means to be Arab. As immigrants in the United States, Arab Americans have been fighting against typified traditional views of Arab identity ever since their arrival in the United States. At the same time, they keep struggling between their traditional sense of Arabness and their effort to keep their reputation in the Arab community, on the one hand, and their attempts to blend in American society, on the other. The complex position of Arab...

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