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

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 position within the improvement of yank nationwide identification over the century, revealing principally unexplored exchanges among those cultural traditions that might adjust how we comprehend them this day.


Moving from the interval of America’s engagement within the Barbary Wars in the course of the Holy Land trip mania within the years of Jacksonian growth and into the writings of romantics corresponding to Edgar Allen Poe, the booklet argues that not just have been Arabs and Muslims prominently featured in nineteenth-century literature, yet that the diversities writers validated among figures akin to Moors, Bedouins, Turks and Orientals offer facts 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 looks in captivity narratives, shuttle narratives, innovative literature, and ethnic literature concurrently instantiate and undermine definitions of the yankee country and American citizenship.

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

Sample text

35 A mameluke is a slave or possession of someone, but a malik (derived from the same verbal root) is a king, and mulk is something that Ibn Khaldun theorized as natural kingship. In practice, the Mameluke dynasty combined these seemingly opposed states of being: they were both slaves and kings, both victims and administrators of imperialism. No man could become a Mameluke ruler who had not first been a Mameluke slave. The janissary body of the Mamelukes was not hereditary and theoretically could only be refreshed with new orphans.

As a Barbary slave, Cathcart commented repeatedly on the potential of the landscape for commercial exploitation, if the population could only be given an enlightened government. “If this country was blessed with a good government which would promote the welfare of its subjects and encourage agriculture, arts and manufactures,” Cathcart writes of Algiers, “it would become in a very few years a perfect paradise; it would also become a commercial nation of considerable import and from a ‘Den of Thieves,’ which it is now at present, it would rank among the civilized nations of the earth” (Captives, 88–89).

Nineteenth-century American arabesques contain anxious explorations of a potential America, an America that is multicultural, cosmopolitan, racially diverse, and internationally contextualized. In the figures of the American Moor and the Arab migrant, these potentialities are embraced, elaborated, and discursively instantiated. Muslim identity provided disenfranchised American citizens, such as black Americans, with a counternode to European culture and cultural hegemony. As certain black uplift leaders pointed out, the Muslim is not only victimized by history but is also a historical victor, evidenced by the prominent histories of Egyptian Empire, Meccan revelation, and Islamic conquest.

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