The description is submitted to:


Session C5029 (Global Arab America: Cosmopolitanism and its Discontents), 2017
Historically, cosmopolitanism has existed in tension with parochialism within the early Arab-American community. Individuals and the communities--spread out as they were across the social and physical space of America--sought to maintain and reinvent a sense of self that is Arab while carving out a space in an indifferent and even hostile America. Rather than assume a universality of experience, my presentation will instead emphasize that being Arab in America varied considerably across the continent and from urban to rural environments. These diverse circumstances created a spectrum of experiences each of which necessitated and allowed a connection to "home" and "mahjar." To elucidate this I will focus on religion and its re-construction in alien lands, its connections to home lands, and its reformulation as a personal and institutional set of ideas and practices.