Born out of Struggle: Space and Trauma in Arab-American literature

Ziyad khalifah Alkhalifah
Keywords: trauma, Arab-American, oppressed, world literature, 9/11 attacks. ,


The magnitude of the September 11 attacks continues to resonate in literature, even after more than two decades. The aftermath of the deadly attacks have heavily affected the socio-political climate and raised the tension between the East and the West. This paper focuses on how since 9/11 the discursive presence in America (and perhaps the West more generally) of Arab-Americans and Muslims more generally has significantly shifted. More specifically, the way, in which Arabs have gone from “white” to non-white, seemingly overnight. With a psychoanalytic approach, and more precisely, the trauma theory, I argue how the dominant discourse generated from the west, after 9/11, has neglected the moral and traumatic consequences it had on Muslims and Arabs. The grand narrative the dominated the media and the writings of many prominent western intellectuals, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, had widened the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims living in the US. So, in this paper, I shed some light on the limitation of language, especially on how trauma tended to be overlooked when it comes to Arabs and Muslims. The focus of this paper, then, is to read the works of Arab-American writers in light of this dialectical exchange between the geopolitical power structure and the 9/11 narrative.