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Arab Americans in Literature and the Media

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Author(s): Mita Banerjee

Journal: American Studies Journal
ISSN 1433-5239

Issue: 52;
Start page: 6;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Arab Americans | literature | media | movies | Hollywood | U.S. | United States | orientalism

ABSTRACT
Hollywood has a long history of stereotyping the Arab. From The Cafe in Cairo to The Siege, this Arab – invariably male – figures as the religious fundamentalist who sees in terrorism the only way to spread Islam over the entire globe. Having said this, this is not to argue either that Hollywood is ideologically corrupt, or that Arab (Americans) are the only ethnic group stereotyped in Hollywood's cultural imagination. Yet while Hollywood’s Orientalism, which is actually based on a fascination with ancient Middle Eastern heritage, reflects a stereotypical depiction of everything Arab, Arab American literature can be seen as the other side of this projection or stereotype. Where Hollywood dramatizes, through the busting of ancient statues for the cause of terrorism, the Arab's disregard for his own culture, novels such as Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and Nada Awar Jarrar's Somewhere, Home set out to preserve precisely a distinct cultural heritage, and go on to celebrate the contemporaneity and complexity of diasporic Afghan and Lebanese experience.
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