[C4699] Global Arab America: Cosmopolitanism and its Discontents

Created by Pauline Homsi Vinson
Friday, 11/18/16 3:45pm


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 thematic conversation aims to look at current trajectories in Arab American studies through the lens of cosmopolitanism. It asks: How do Arab American engagements with questions of belonging, diaspora, and transnational affiliation intersect with concerns about world citizenship, moral obligations, and globalization? 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?

Participants in this conversation explore literary, artistic, sociological, historical, and political analyses of Arab American configurations and creative productions through transnational, cosmopolitan, and/or migration studies. They address the following issues: How do works by Arab American playwrights confront the tension between creative expression and cosmopolitan obligations to the suffering of others? How and which Arab American writers become cosmopolitan and how does their work fit into the discourse of imperialism, the nation state, and transnationalism? Has the category of the cosmopolitan historically elided non-metropolitan spaces of creative cultural production? To what extent do the perspectives afforded by political economy, global sociology, international law, and human rights inform Arab American understandings of the "cosmopolitan"?

The co-organizers hope that the participants will spark lively debate with the session's attendants, building on prior threads of the conversation and forging new paths to explore the topic. The organizers plan to continue this conversation beyond the 2016 MESA conference, with one organizer chairing the session in 2016 and the other chairing the session in 2017.






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;

Sarah Gualtieri

(University of Southern California)
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;

Carol Fadda

(Syracuse University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;