Imagining sittee : constructions of homelands and grandmother narratives in Arab American literature
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This report examines the use of grandmother figures in the construction of imagined communities in Arab American literature. Through the lens of diaspora studies, it argues that grandmother figures become integral in the creation of an Arab American imagined community based on two main tropes: a theoretical collapse between notions of patriotism and the maternal figure (in which the homeland becomes the Motherland) and the tendency of second-generation Arab American authors to connect their immigrant grandmothers to ethnic homelands. In exploring this connection, the report argues that the creation of an Arab American imagined community is necessitated by anti-Arab racism in the United States and the need for the community’s authors to be seen in tandem with the literary traditions of other ethnic minorities in America. The report problematizes the imagined homeland by arguing that it is constructed on the basis of simplistic juxtapositions between different generations within the Arab American community, and ends by examining the anxiety that is generated when this juxtaposition and the imagined community are threatened.