Broken Promises in a ‘Promised Land’: Race and Citizenship after 9/11 in Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land

Mudasir Altaf Bhat

Abstract


This paper examines the racialisation and gendering of a collective subject described as ‘Middle Eastern or Muslim’ in the US post-9/11. It examines how this category came to be visible and prominent through the workings of disciplinary powers and the politics of security and freedom. Analyzing the text Once in a Promised Land, the paper will show how Jassim and Salwa  inspite of relinquishing all forms of transnational political engagement and building their image in implicit compliance with the assimilative criteria that guarantee the good Arab-American label were victims of suspicion and downright racism. So the paper will explore how the novel goes beyond representing the consequences on Arabs in the post-9/11 America, and skillfully investigates the psychological, social, political and economic dimensions of the experiences of Arab Americans by questioning the concept of citizenship. How this text by imagining counter-hegemonic and heterogenous enactments of non-formulaic, non-binaristic types of US citizenship challenges homogenized depictions of Muslim Americans and forging in the process revisionary spaces that stand against and redefine exclusionary conceptualizations of US citizenship will also be explored. The centrality of race, class and religion to such forms of citizenship suggest that we need to rethink multiculturalism in relation to governmentality as a process of modern subject formation as well as to the state practices that use such subjects and contribute to their formation. So it will be analyzed how multiculturalism has become in the US post-9/11 as a state project to create racialised and gendered subjects who see themselves as American at some points and as different kind of Americans at other times and places

Keywords


9/11, Citizenship, Muslim, Race.

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References


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