Pages: 232 Size: 5.5x8.5
Illustrations: 7 black-and-white photographs
Hadha Baladuna: Arab American Narratives of Boundary and Belonging begins with stories of immigration and exile by following newcomers’ attempts to assimilate into American society. Editors Ghassan Zeineddine, Nabeel Abraham, and Sally Howell have assembled a cast of emerging and established writers who examine notions of home, belonging, and citizenship from a wide array of communities, including cultural heritages originating from Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Yemen. The strong pattern in Arab Detroit today is to oppose marginalization through avid participation in almost every form of American identity-making. This engaged stance is not a byproduct of culture, but a new way of thinking about the US in relation to one’s homeland.
Hadha Baladuna ("this is our country") is the first work of creative nonfiction in the field of Arab American literature that focuses entirely on the Arab diaspora in Metro Detroit, an area with the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the US. Narratives move from a young Lebanese man in the early 1920s peddling his wares along country roads to an aspiring Iraqi-Lebanese poet who turns to the music of Tupac Shakur for inspiration. The anthology then pivots to experiences growing up Arab American in Detroit and Dearborn, capturing the cultural vibrancy of urban neighborhoods and dramatizing the complexity of what it means to be Arab, particularly from the vantage point of biracial writers. Included in these works is a fearless account of domestic and sexual abuse and a story of a woman who comes to terms with her queer identity in a community that is not entirely accepting. The volume also includes photographs from award-winning artist Rania Matar that present heterogenous images of Arab American women set against the arresting backdrop of Detroit. The anthology concludes with explorations of political activism dating back to the 1960s and Dearborn’s shifting demographic landscape.
Hadha Baladuna will shed light on the shifting position of Arab Americans in an era of escalating tension between the United States and the Arab region. It is intended for any reader hoping to learn more from the creative voices of Arab America.