American Arabesque: Arabs and Islam in the Nineteenth by Jacob Rama Berman

By Jacob Rama Berman

American Arabesque examines representations of Arabs, Islam and the close to East in nineteenth-century American tradition, arguing that those representations play an important function within the improvement of yankee nationwide id over the century, revealing principally unexplored exchanges among those cultural traditions that might adjust how we comprehend them this present day.


Moving from the interval of America’s engagement within the Barbary Wars in the course of the Holy Land commute mania within the years of Jacksonian growth and into the writings of romantics akin to Edgar Allen Poe, the ebook argues that not just have been Arabs and Muslims prominently featured in nineteenth-century literature, yet that the diversities writers demonstrated among figures equivalent to Moors, Bedouins, Turks and Orientals offer evidence of the transnational scope of household racial politics. Drawing on either English and Arabic language assets, Berman contends that the fluidity and instability of the time period Arab because it seems in captivity narratives, go back and forth narratives, innovative literature, and ethnic literature concurrently instantiate and undermine definitions of the yankee kingdom and American citizenship.

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Extra resources for American Arabesque: Arabs and Islam in the Nineteenth Century Imaginary

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The Cologlie, a child of a garrisoned Turkish soldier and a local Algerian woman, has no American double precisely because he or she represents the possibility of racial hybridity being integrated into an essentialist chain of being. Most tellingly, though, is Foss’s categorization of Arab identity. ” Yet the term Arab was applied in other contexts by other Barbary captives to a range of different American racial equivalents. Foss does not merely replicate the Barbary racial hierarchy; he translates it according to his particular conception of racial order.

They are perfectly dark and in the day are illuminated with lamps, and when full of drunken Turks, Moors, Arabs, Christians, and now and then a Jew or two . . forms the most disgusting “Coup de Oeil” that can be imagined, . . the place filled with smoke of tobacco which renders objects nearly impervious to the view, some wrangling with the tavern keepers for more liquor and refusing to pay for it, that upon the whole it must resemble the infernal regions more than any other place in the known world, especially when they frequently quarrel with themselves and proceed to blows and even murder often takes place in those receptacles of vice and immorality, which generally occasions the tavern keeper to lose all his property as the tavern is seized by the Regency and the tavern keeper sent to hard labor.

Read in an intercultural context, the translation of the Arab Bedouin into the American Bedouin does something more than stabilize white nativity in America and create a national symbolic that differentiates American Empire from its historical predecessors. This translation also, simultaneously, creates cross-cultural imaginaries that allow American readers to see Andrew Jackson mirrored in the Oriental “despot” Muhammad Ali and American expansionism mirrored in the hegemonic policies of the Ottomans toward indigenous populations.

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