• 'Carrying Africa', Becoming Lebanese: Diasporic Middleness in Lebanese Fiction

    Ghenwa Hayek (see profile)
    Emigration and immigration, Ethnicity, Immigrants--Social conditions, Literature and transnationalism, Transnationalism, Arabic literature, Literature, Modern, Middle East, Area studies
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Diaspora studies, Transnational literature, Transnational migration, Modern Arabic literature, Middle Eastern studies
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    In this essay, I explore the ways in which the bodies of migrants, specifically of Lebanese men who have returned from Africa, are represented in Lebanese fiction. By focusing on the ways in which these figures are embodied textually, I seek to begin to shed light on the ways in which Lebanese authors have engaged with certain diaspora spaces, in this case, the often undifferentiated referent 'Africa'. I argue that the ways in which Lebanese fiction engages with the Lebanese experience in the African diaspora reveals not only a cultural attitude towards Africa that is tangled up in notions of scientific racism, and a colonial and postcolonial anxiety about Lebanese identity and nationalism, but also, concomitantly, a gnawing anxiety over the meaning of Lebanese identity and the viability of Lebanon itself. In this essay, I closely read two texts written and published almost a century apart, showing the remarkable similarity that nevertheless exists between them. However, I argue that, especially in the earlier prose fiction that is the main focus of this essay, Lebanese identity is figured as a sort of between-ness, between white European and African identities; it is through this betweenness that the figure of the exemplary Lebanese individual emerges.
    Winner, Khayrallah Award for Middle East Diaspora Studies, 2015
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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