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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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Steven Salaita states in his book Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures, and Politics (2007) that “emphasis on plurality is the only plausible way to discuss Arab Americans” (1). Indeed, the present study has presented multiple enactments of masculinities, thus reflecting the variety of manhoods represented in post-9/11 Arab American novels. In so doing, there has been an effort in countering stereotypical and homogenizing portrayals of Arab men. Moreover, the analysis of Arab American literature in chapter 4 has confirmed the theories expounded upon, especially in the previous chapters.

Chapter 1 has traced the historical racialization of Arabs in the United States. Taking Arab Americanness as a racial construction, the chapter has provided an account of the liminal position of Arabs in the United States regarding their racial categorization, as they are officially classified as white by the government, while their experiences of discrimination have historically constructed their identities as other and abject. If a survey on pre-9/11 discourses has offered a perspective on the historical stereotyping of Arab (American) men, September 11 has been explored as a national trauma, and its consequences for the perception of Arab masculinities in the United States have been examined. A special emphasis has been given to the construction of Arab men as terrorists through the ascription of abjection and deviance onto them, as the necropolitics resultant from 9/11 invited the pathologization of Arab/Muslim men as “monster-terrorists” (Puar and Rai), ← 181 | 182 → and consequently rendered them as “intolerable ethnics” (Puar). An...

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