Surviving in between worlds of Laila “Halaby’s West of the Jordan”
Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Rzeszowskiego
“West of the Jordan” was published in 2003, a period when the Arab American movement was coming to a new era in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was a time when scholars/writers began deconstructing the concept of Arab and Arab American identity to highlight the diversity of the community by taking into account internal differences, especially in areas such as gender, class, and sexuality. I intend to add to this body of work by setting “West of the Jordan” against Gloria Anzaldúa’s theoretical concept of nepantla (Borderlands; In-betweenness), seen here as an identity formation framework. Anzaldúa’s theorization of nepantla has stressed the instability of identity categories through movement betwixt and between identity and transformative ethics of change. Thus, the novel’s formulations and reformulations of ethnic, gender, and other categories should be understood as a way of criticizing these categories ’essentialist nature (even if some of the characters in the novel fail to formulate a constructive liberatory alternative to the essentialisms it attacks/aims to eradicate). In this context, the heroines ’actions succeed in destabilizing the categories ’ideological power and manage to show the shallowness of such delineations.
Arab American women , Laila Halaby , nepantla , displacement , identity construction
Studia Anglica Resoviensia T. 17 (2020), s. 5–19