Between the Middle East and the Americas
The Cultural Politics of Diaspora
Edited by Evelyn Alsultany and Ella Shohat
Perceptions of the Middle East in conflicting discourses from North America, South America, and Europe
Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora traces the production and circulation of discourses about "the Middle East" across various cultural sites, against the historical backdrop of cross-Atlantic Mahjar flows. The book highlights the fraught and ambivalent situation of Arabs/Muslims in the Americas, where they are at once celebrated and demonized, integrated and marginalized, simultaneously invisible and spectacularly visible. The essays cover such themes as Arab hip-hop's transnational imaginary; gender/sexuality and the Muslim digital diaspora; patriotic drama and the media's War on Terror; the global negotiation of the Prophet Mohammad cartoons controversy; the Latin American paradoxes of Turcophobia/Turcophilia; the ambiguities of the bellydancing fad; French and American commodification of Rumi spirituality; the reception of Iranian memoirs as cultural domestication; and the politics of translation of Turkish novels into English. Taken together, the essays analyze the hegemonic discourses that position "the Middle East" as a consumable exoticized object, while also developing complex understandings of self-representation in literature, cinema/TV, music, performance, visual culture, and digital spaces. Charting the shifting significations of differing and overlapping forms of Orientalism, the volume addresses Middle Eastern diasporic practices from a transnational perspective that brings postcolonial cultural studies methods to bear on Arab American studies, Middle Eastern studies, and Latin American studies. Between the Middle East and the Americas disentangles the conventional separation of regions, moving beyond the binarist notion of "here" and "there" to imaginatively reveal the thorough interconnectedness of cultural geographies.
Illustration: Pouran Jinchi, Untitled 13 (from Entropy), 2010. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 182.8 × 122 cm. Courtesy of Pouran Jinchi, The Farjam Collection, Dubai, and Leila Heller Gallery, New York.
Evelyn Azeeza Alsultany is Associate Professor in the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan.
Ella Habiba Shohat is Professor, Departments of Art and Public Policy, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University.
Praise / Awards
"This ambitious and pioneering collection of essays sets out to map diasporic territories not easily recognized by Area Studies-based approaches... This excellent volume is a remarkable contribution to that urgent task."
—Mashriq & Mahjar Review
Honorable Mention: Arab American National Museum (AANM) 2014 Arab American Book Award, Non-fiction category
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