[C5029] Global Arab America: Cosmopolitanism and its Discontents

Created by Pauline Homsi Vinson
Sunday, 11/19/17 8:00am


Concerns with globalization, migration, and cross-cultural affiliation have revived the concept of cosmopolitanism or "world citizenship" and given rise to important considerations of the moral, political, and cultural dimensions of the term (Nussbaum 1997; Appiah 2006; Benhabib 2008; Beck and Sznaider 2006; Anderson 2011). Similar concerns with transnational affiliation, belonging, and diasporic identification are evident in scholarship on Arab Americans and Arab American literary, artistic, and cultural productions (Naber 2012; Alsultany and Shohat 2013; and Fadda-Conrey 2014). Mashriq and Mahjar: Journal of Middle East Migration Studies; the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies; and the newly established Global Arab and Arab American Literature Forum at the Modern Language Association all attest to the growing engagement with the relationship between Arab American studies and global, diaspora, and migration, studies.

This multi-year interdisciplinary thematic conversation began at the MESA 2016 annual convention in Boston, MA, and generated a lively discussion among a standing-room only audience. The topics covered included cross-ethnic affiliation, racialization, and religion as well as both identification and dis-identification with the two concepts "Arab American" and "cosmopolitanism." This year's thematic session continues this conversation and delves more deeply into areas of history, gender, sociology, and culture. Participants in this session continue to explore the questions: How do global Arab engagements with questions of belonging, diaspora, and transnational affiliation intersect with concerns about world citizenship, moral obligations, and cosmopolitanism? What are the tensions as well as productive overlaps between such terms as "Arab" and "American"; "America" and the "Americas"; "Arab" and "Global Arab"; "Middle Eastern American" and "Arab American"? How does the figure of the refugee at once expand and add stresses to notions of mobility, exile, transnationalism, the nation, and the very concept of cosmopolitanism? What are the pressures of the current political moment and how do they impact upon the notion of a "global Arab" or "cosmopolitan" conceptual frame?

Participants in this conversation explore both the productive potential as well as the possible limitations of bringing the concept "global Arab" in conversation with the idea of "cosmopolitanism" within literary, historical, sociological, and comparative frameworks. The organizers of this thematic conversation hope that the discussion will enhance scholarly debate on these categories and respond to emerging and critical concepts in the related fields of Arab, Arab American, globalization, migration, and diaspora studies.






Suad Joseph

(University of California Davis)
2011 MESA President JOSEPH, Suad (F) Distinguished Professor, University of California, Davis, Anthropology [Department of Anthropology, University of California, One Shields Avenue Davis, CA 95616 United States; w:530-752-0745; f:530-752-8885; sjoseph@ucdavis.edu]....
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;

Louise A. Cainkar

(Marquette University)
Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Welfare and Justice at Marquette University. Author of: Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience after 9/11. (2009, New York: Russell Sage Foundation) and a wide range of articles...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Akram F. Khater

(North Carolina State University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Paul Amar

(UC Santa Barbara)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Pauline Homsi Vinson

(Diablo Valley College)
Pauline Homsi Vinson teaches literature and writing at Diablo Valley College. She holds a Ph.D. in English literature from Northwestern University and has taught at a number of universities in the United States, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Her...
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer;

Madeline Campbell

(Worcester State University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;