Ambivalent Unhomely Belongings of the Arab American Diaspora ...

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The article explores the postcolonial concepts of ambivalence and unhomeliness in the diasporic context of Arab Americans. The contradictions involved in immigrants’ attempts to adapt within the hosting culture are critically studied and analyzed in two Arab American short stories: “How We Are Bound” by Patricia Sarrafian Ward and “My Elizabeth” by Diana Abu-Jaber. Protagonists in both stories develop different adaptation strategies including full or partial assimilation and full or partial rejection of American culture. The feelings of alienation and displacement associated with the experiences of immigration and resettlement explain why diasporic subjects do not usually feel at home anywhere that they travel to or settle in. Yet, these feelings usher in the formation of a spatiotemporally more diverse identity in which geographical, historical, and cultural borderlines disappear or become blurred. The ambivalent unhomely belongings, which the protagonists in both stories appear to produce, are a manifestation of the diverse diasporic context and discourse.