Arab Detroit: From Margin to Mainstream

Wayne State University Press
2
Free sample

Metropolitan Detroit is home to one of the largest, most diverse Arab communities outside the Middle East, yet the complex world Arabic-speaking immigrants have created there is barely visible on the landscape of ethnic America. In this volume, Nabeel Abraham and Andrew Shryock bring together the work of twenty-five contributors to create a richly detailed portrait of Arab Detroit. The book goes behind the bulletproof glass in Iraqi Chaldean liquor stores. It explores the role of women in a Sunni mosque and the place of nationalist politics in a Coptic church. It follows the careers of wedding singers, Arabic calligraphers,restaurant owners, and pastry chefs. It examines the agendas of Shia Muslim activists and Washington-based lobbyists and looks at the intimate politics of marriage, family honor, and adolescent rebellion. Memoirs and poems by Lebanese, Chaldean, Yemeni, and Palestinian writers anchor the book in personal experience, while over fifty photographs provide a backdrop of vivid, often unexpected, images. In their efforts to represent an ethnic/immigrant community that is flourishing on the margins of pluralist discourse, the contributors to this book break new ground in the study of identity politics, transnationalism, and diaspora cultures.
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About the author

Nabeel Abraham teaches anthropology at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan, where he also serves as director of the Honors Program. He is co-editor of Arabs in the New World: Studies on Arab-American Communities (Center for Urban Studies, Wayne State University, 1983). Andrew Shryock is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of Nationalism and the Genealogical Imagination: Oral History and Textual Authority in Tribal Jordan (University of California Press, 1997).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Wayne State University Press
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Published on
Aug 1, 2000
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Pages
630
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ISBN
9780814339787
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / State & Local / Midwest (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI)
Social Science / Regional Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Detroit's large
and nationally prominent Arab and Muslim communities have faced
heightened prejudice, government surveillance, and political
scapegoating, yet they have also enjoyed unexpected gains in economic,
political, and cultural influence. Museums, festivals, and cultural
events flourish alongside the construction of new mosques and churches,
and more Arabs are being elected and appointed to public office.
Detroit's Arab population is growing even as the city's non-Arab
sectors, and the state of Michigan as a whole, have steadily lost
population. In Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade, a follow-up to their volume Arab Detroit: From Margin to Mainstream
(Wayne State University Press, 2000), editors Nabeel Abraham, Sally
Howell, and Andrew Shryock present accounts of how life in post-9/11
Detroit has changed over the last ten years.

Abraham,
Howell, and Shryock have assembled a diverse group of contributors whose
essays range from the scholarly to the artistic and include voices that
are Palestinian, Iraqi, Yemeni, and Lebanese; Muslim and Christian;
American born and immigrant. The book is divided into six sections and
begins with wide-angle views of Arab Detroit, looking first at how the
community fits within greater Detroit as a whole, then presenting closer
portraits of Arab Detroit's key ethnonational and religious subgroups.
More personal, everyday accounts of life in the Terror Decade follow as
focus shifts to practical matters such as family life, neighborhood
interactions, going to school, traveling domestically, and visiting home
countries. Finally, contributors consider the interface between Arab
Detroit and the larger society, how this relationship is maintained, how
the War on Terror has distorted it, and what lessons might be drawn
about citizenship, inclusion, and exclusion by situating Arab Detroit in
broader and deeper historical contexts.

In Detroit, new
realities of political marginalization and empowerment are evolving side
by side. As they explore the complex demands of life in the Terror
Decade, the contributors to this volume create vivid portraits of a
community that has fought back successfully against attempts to deny its
national identity and diminish its civil rights. Readers interested in
Arab studies, Detroit culture and history, transnational politics, and
the changing dynamics of race and ethnicity in America will enjoy the
personal reflection and analytical insight of Arab Detroit 9/11.

Is citizenship simply a legal status or does it describe a sense of belonging to a national community? For Arab Americans, these questions took on new urgency after 9/11, as the cultural prejudices that have often marginalized their community came to a head. Citizenship and Crisis reveals that, despite an ever-shifting definition of citizenship and the ease with which it can be questioned in times of national crisis, the Arab communities of metropolitan Detroit continue to thrive. A groundbreaking study of social life, religious practice, cultural values, and political views among Detroit Arabs after 9/11, Citizenship and Crisis argues that contemporary Arab American citizenship and identity have been shaped by the chronic tension between social inclusion and exclusion that has been central to this population's experience in America. According to the landmark Detroit Arab American Study, which surveyed more than 1,000 Arab Americans and is the focus of this book, Arabs express pride in being American at rates higher than the general population. In nine wide-ranging essays, the authors of Citizenship and Crisis argue that the 9/11 backlash did not substantially transform the Arab community in Detroit, nor did it alter the identities that prevail there. The city's Arabs are now receiving more mainstream institutional, educational, and political support than ever before, but they remain a constituency defined as essentially foreign. The authors explore the role of religion in cultural integration and identity formation, showing that Arab Muslims feel more alienated from the mainstream than Arab Christians do. Arab Americans adhere more strongly to traditional values than do other Detroit residents, regardless of religion. Active participants in the religious and cultural life of the Arab American community attain higher levels of education and income, yet assimilation to the American mainstream remains important for achieving enduring social and political gains. The contradictions and dangers of being Arab and American are keenly felt in Detroit, but even when Arab Americans oppose U.S. policies, they express more confidence in U.S. institutions than do non-Arabs in the general population. The Arabs of greater Detroit, whether native-born, naturalized, or permanent residents, are part of a political and historical landscape that limits how, when, and to what extent they can call themselves American. When analyzed against this complex backdrop, the results of The Detroit Arab American Study demonstrate that the pervasive notion in American society that Arabs are not like "us" is simply inaccurate. Citizenship and Crisis makes a rigorous and impassioned argument for putting to rest this exhausted cultural and political stereotype.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country.

As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. They settled in what is now Marietta on the banks of the Ohio River.

McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people. Like so many of McCullough’s subjects, they let no obstacle deter or defeat them.

Drawn in great part from a rare and all-but-unknown collection of diaries and letters by the key figures, The Pioneers is a uniquely American story of people whose ambition and courage led them to remarkable accomplishments. This is a revelatory and quintessentially American story, written with David McCullough’s signature narrative energy.
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