|Global Arab America: Cosmopolitanism and its Discontents|
Immigrant parents take their children “back home” for extended periods of time so they can learn their language, religion, and culture, meet their extended family, and build self-esteem in their national and religious identities. Yet one outcome of this experience for the youth involved can be a sense of cosmopolitanism, instead of or in addition to strengthened identifications with their parents’ homelands and religion. Using quotes from research I conducted in Palestine, Jordan, and Yemen with 93 Arab American youth attending high school in the homeland, I will describe what this cosmopolitanism looks like as well as the circumstances that led to its evolution. This sense was articulated as a type of knowledge about much more than how specific cultures work, an insight into how the world works; something some referred to as becoming a global citizen. It tended to be a perspective expressed by females more than males. Then, using quotes from a smaller set of post-study interviews with persons who had lived transnationally [in Palestine] one generation earlier, I will articulate the downside of this newfound cosmopolitan perspective: that it has limited value in American culture, which interlocutors described as narrow-minded and unreceptive to cosmopolitan insights.