By Nadine Naber
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Additional resources for Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism
Here, empire inscribes itself on the diasporic subject within the domestic (national) borders of empire. 6 I gathered the accounts I narrate in this chapter by spending time among community-based networks, listening to people’s stories, and scouring through community-based publications. Between January 1998 and August 2001, I conducted participant observation within community-based organizations and at community-based events and gatherings that brought together Arab immigrants from Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.
The collective articulations of Arabness that emerged among Arabs in the Bay Area came out of the interconnected conditions of race, class, empire, and diaspora between the 1950s and the late 1990s. 42 << From Model Minority to Problem Minority From Ethnic Accommodation to Diasporic Anti-Imperialism, 1950s–1970s Within community-based organizations and within social and family-based networks, many old-timers institutionalized a middle-class articulation of Arabness in the Bay Area. One of the first Arab organizations in the Bay Area has represented one of the largest groups of Palestinians from the historically predominantly Christian village of Ramallah.
S. S. government practices and media discourses contributed to what I term an 40 << From Model Minority to Problem Minority “internment of the psyche,” or a sense that one might be under scrutiny— by strangers, hidden cameras, wiretaps, and other surveillance mechanisms of the security state, as well as invisible arbiters of the legality and normality of behavior, rendering them vulnerable to the “truths” contrived by the state—even if they were engaging in lawful activity. Particularly for political activists, living with these specters became a normative pattern of life (Naber 2006).
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