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Transformative practices and historical revision: Suheir Hammad's born Palestinian, born Black.

As readers, we need to approach this literature [Arab-American] not with fixed expectations but in a spirit of open inquiry. As writers, our task is not only to claim and reshape the meanings of both "Arab" and "American," but also to explore an identity still in the process of being constructed--an identity which we are all, readers and writers alike, in the process of constructing.

--Lisa Suhair Majaj, The Hyphenated Author

Growing up, we start seeing that those parts of our lives are closely intertwined, and we can't really say this part is Arab and this part is American. It is as close as a pulse is. It is the whole thing that keeps us alive. Writing helps us see that and, whoever we are it helps us identify what makes the whole geography of our lives.

--Naomi Shihab Nye

As a subject who has been scarred by displacement and who entertains a complex relationship with memory, roots and origins, Suheir Hammad has unique insights into what Renato Rosaldo has called the "border zones of culture" (1). Her ambiguous location vis-a-vis memory and geographic, social, and communal spaces influences her articulation of narratives of belonging which are aware of their contribution to power configurations even as they denounce their dissymmetries and paradoxes. Such a tension results in a quest for methods and strategies aiming at using creative practices in order to shape intensely personal and idiosyncratic forms of representation. The intervention of this author in the canonical discourses revolving around ethnicity, identity, and literature, is based on the negotiation of modernity and traditions. It works along with the representation of complex, interrelated cultural identities in order to reshape our understanding of the political consciousness meditating strategies of self-inscription.

A Palestinian American, a woman, and a poet, who also identifies as Arab, American, and black, Hammad is an astute interpreter of the condition of exile and the creative resistance emanating from the careful and self-conscious deconstruction of hierarchies rather than in their reversal. As she works to reshape creative and multivocal spaces, she gives a new orientation to configurations of power, recognizing their inevitability while at the same time working towards their imaginative rearrangement in order to reduce the imbalance permeating the production and circulation of knowledge. Engaged in such negotiations, she provides a framework for seeing how the complexities of identity formation can be understood through a form of universalism which acknowledges the importance of gendered and ethnic specificities, while at the same time stressing the commonalities and zones of intersection among different groups. As such, the universal is redefined as a form of political awareness of the workings of power and systems.

Stressing the importance of such negotiations, this paper maintains that Hammad accomplishes a critique of power through the rearrangement of traditional geographies and seemingly unrelated spaces. In this process, she uses historical experience rather than geographic location as the frame of reference for the redrawing of maps of struggle against a number of oppressive practices. Such a rearrangement, I maintain, takes place through the use of a technique I term "combinatorial poetics" in order to establish a rapprochement between different histories and stories of struggle. In other words, Hammad's writing shows how, as Michel Foucault states, "a change in the order of discourse does not presuppose 'new ideas,' a little invention and creativity, a different mentality, but transformations in a practice, perhaps also in neighboring practices, and in their common articulation" (209). The paper also argues that in the struggle to reconstruct imaginative spaces and to unsettle hierarchies, Hammad exploits the flexible potential of borders and stresses the significance of discovering embryonic entities. Such entities allow her to reorganize cultural practices so as to creatively juggle/redefine cultural, linguistic, and stylistic norms. For this poet, thus, the construction of identity depends on acts of adaptation and appropriation of the unspoken and unspeakable, shaping ways in which she situates herself in discursive spaces and negotiates the heterogeneousness of narrative, social and historical borders.

In addition to Born Palestinian, Born Black, Hammad has published another collection of poems, ZaatarDiva and a poetic autobiography, Drops of this Story. Her play, Blood Trinity, was produced at the New York Hip Hop Theater Festival. She has contributed articles and poems to a number of periodicals, including The Amsterdam News, Black Renaissance/ Renaissance Noire, Brilliant Corners, Clique, Drum Voices Revue, Essence, Long Shot, Atlanta Review, Bomb, Brooklyn Bridge, Fierce, STRESS HipHop Magazine, Quarterly Black Review of Books, Color Lines, Spheric, The Olive Tree Review, The Hunter Envoy, Meridians, and Signs. Her work was also published in anthologies such as In Defense of Mumia, New to North America, The Space Between Our Footsteps, Identity Lessons, Listen Up!, Post Gibran: Anthology of New Arab-American Writing, The Poetry of Arab Women, Trauma at Home, and Word: On Being a (Woman) Writer. Hammad's poetry has been featured on the BBC World Service and National Public Radio; she has also performed her work at universities, colleges, spoken word poetry venues, rap concerts, and on Broadway in the Tony Award Winning Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam. Her libretto, Re-Orientalism, was commissioned by the Center for Cultural Exchange and performed at theaters in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Hammad has won several awards for her writing, including The Audre Lorde Poetry Award, The Morris Center for Healing Poetry Award, and a Sister of Fire Award. She continues to perform her poems on the HBO series, Def Poetry Jam, which was created in 2001. This program features slam and spoken word poets, whose beats emerged from hip-hop culture. Their poetry, which in certain respects shows the influence of the Black Arts Movement, is engaged in raising awareness about communal, cultural and socio-political concerns.

Reflecting such concerns, Hammad's creative work in general, and Born Palestinian, Born Black in particular, articulate cultural tensions and a vision of identity intimately related to the author's experience of community, space and exile. Born to Palestinian refugee parents in Jordan on October 25, 1973, Hammad lived for a short period in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. Then, at the age of five, she moved with her family to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. As the author's biography in Born Palestinian, Born Black notes, despite the fact that the family was seeking some peace, they soon realized that they "went from one war-torn part of the world to another" (n.p.). Hammad's family background, her insider/outsider status in American society, and her alternative community of sisters and brothers in struggle, inform her poetry, creating multivocal and sometimes discordant articulations. As a result, her work engages in a dialogue with multiple others at the same time as it is deeply informed by the specificity of her racial, gendered, and class-related experiences. Such experiences pave the way for conflicted and at times more constructive forms of communication and self-inscription.

In her exploration of the protocols of othering not only on the collective but also on the personal level, Hammad moves flexibly between her multivocal authorial self and her Palestinian identity. Her inscription in the context of Palestinian struggle involves a form of self-situating in the history of resistance for the liberation of Palestine. She starts this project by framing her story as a Palestinian poet and her odyssey with the pen through the recounting of the experiences and frustrations of her uncle who was exiled from his homeland. She details his experience in a piece entitled "dedication," which frames the book as a creative product. In this poem, Hammad declares her uncle one of her muses, whose life has been scarred by forced exile in Jordan. Because of this condition, he wasted fifteen years of his life and lived in refugee tents while his house was being daily violated. Having been deprived of education since he could "not go to school and write/poetry about the sky the sun love," he carries a "knife and small pistol" to fight back. As Hammad puts it, "his fifteen years of life wasted/worrying about eating feeding his belly/but his mind is hungry pride starving/he's got to feed to stay alive/his enemies' blood/the only nourishment needed/ repelled by the extent of his hatred/feels unhuman thinking evil thoughts/but his enemies never/believed he was human/he'd prove them wrong/his warm human blood would/fertilize the soil of phalasteen [Arabic for Palestine]" (5). After her uncle was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers, Hammad visits Jordan and sits on the mountaintop where he used to sit and contemplate Palestine, and she thinks about "exchanging her books and pencils/for a knife a small pistol" (5). However, Hammad chooses the pen and a book to recount the story of her people and thus she provides a form of continuity for her uncle, not only challenging the notions of inhumanity associated with his death but also claiming her right to redefine strategies of struggle and means of resistance.

By framing her collection through this poem, in which she represents the act of writing as a tool for the construction of home through the continuation of the struggle against displacement, dehumanization, and socio-political injustices, Hammad establishes writing (and reading) as a space of contestation, challenging the hegemony of the occupation and its dehumanizing consequences. Her uncle's dedication to his homeland inspires and provides a form of lineage to her own, which does not only continue her uncle's struggle but also expands it by redrawing the borders of Palestinian struggle, in order to situate it within a more universal form of struggle. The act of poetic repositioning of this struggle is mediated by the emphasis on the links between writing, liberation and consciousness raising in the "Author's Note" located at the beginning of Hammad's book. In this note, Hammad uses a blend of poetry and prose to stress the importance of language, writing and voice in the struggle against displacement, dehumanization, and historical violations. A major source of inspiration for Hammad is the work of African-American poet and activist June Jordan. More specifically, Jordan's representation of her "transformation" and its causes works, in a gesture informed by combinatorial poetics, to anchor resistance in a larger affiliative and transformative context.

What I call combinatorial poetics uses a personal or cultural point of departure to create bridges and connections through the identification of points of intersection related to the political and social concerns, struggles as well as the lived reality of marginalized groups. In this respect, it functions as a tool serving to nuance how different communities interact and understand each other. It also defies separatist and isolationist tendencies in order to produce a particularly effective point of departure for the creation of alliances without loss of specificity, since it equally stresses commonalities and differences in order to achieve a broader vision of struggle against various forms of oppression. Mediating the understanding and elaboration of the political, combinatorial poetics thus offers a basis for the engagement of the self in a process of exploration which might lead to the questioning and revision of assumptions and "self-evident" truths. Notably, this strategy engages different types and levels of experience in order to destabilize (but never marginalize or erase) notions of difference and relativism, as it emphasizes zones of intersection and commonalities existing among different types of communities and groups. Consequently, it catalyzes a relatively safe process of penetration into otherness, since it relies, in its initial stages, on the security of the familiar, the known and the readable. It also demarcates a pattern of movement across cultural arenas and physical topographies. Such a process inevitably forces/mediates a renarrativization of the self which leads to, and is a result of, the achievement of a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the other, his/her experiences, ordeals and struggle. As Chandra Talpade Mohanty argues, this insight into the formative elements of the other's experiences also results in a broader perspective achieved through the mapping and identification of continuities of oppressions and similarities in strategies of silencing and marginalization.

Framed by such a combinatorial poetic approach, the author's note quotes the following passage from Jordan's poem "Moving Towards Home": "I was born a Black woman/and now/I am become a Palestinian/against the relentless laughter of evil/there is less and less living room/and where are my loved ones?/ It is time to make our way home." In "Moving Towards Home" in general, and in this excerpt in particular, Jordan represents "becoming Palestinian," i.e., the adoption of a Palestinian identity as her way of fighting the tireless and cruel laughter of evil, reflected in the violence of the Israeli occupation, the massacres of Palestinian refugees in camps such as Sabra and Shatila, and the invasion of South Lebanon. Notably, the poet becomes a Palestinian Black woman when she thinks about the consequences of silence and its dehumanizing omissions. To fight back, she uses the word and her witnessing voice, denouncing oppression and reclaiming the space of the living room This project is integrated in Jordan's broader vision of universal struggle, which she develops in the following passage:
   My life seems to be an increasing revelation of the intimate
   face of universal struggle. You begin with your family and
   the kids on the block, and next you open your eyes to what
   you call your people and that leads you into land reform into
   Black English into Angola leads you back to your own bed
   where you lie by yourself, wondering if you deserve to be
   peaceful, or trusted or desired or left to the freedom of your
   own unfaltering heart. And the scale shrinks to the size of a
   skull: your own interior cage.

   And then if you're lucky, and I have been lucky, everything
   comes back to you.... It's because it's on. All of us and me by
   myself: we're on. (Foreword 308)

In her comments about struggle, Jordan emphasizes the responsibilities that social and political awareness brings to one's life. She also stresses the importance of revision and self-examination that a genuine commitment to pursuing questions about privilege and "living rooms" entails. This process unleashes a chain of thoughts and realizations which might obsess and haunt the subject. "Making our way home" then becomes related to a specific understanding and way of being, shaped by the realization that political and social commitment to justice depends on a broader vision of home/self. Thus, the "way" takes on a collective shape and its formation is mediated by a collective will to effect change; otherwise, way and home become fragile illusions and ghosts of the imagination. Consequently, both constructs, as represented by Jordan, heavily depend on social, political and historical awareness related to the continuities existing between seemingly different entities, be they represented by the family and kids on the block, "what one calls their people," a country in another continent, one's bed, or even one's body.

In this particular configuration of home and self, and through this intricately woven web of struggles, Jordan traces a life journey whose concerns and purposes Hammad finds crucial. Its stress on the "intimate face" of universal struggle and its expanding concentric model map cartographies of transformation, which as Hammad says, are inspiring because they place home at the center of change and celebrate the essence of the Spirit. They also reflect a firm belief in the power of the subject to transcend the limitations of the particular and redefine the self, using it as a point of departure to journey into othernesses. As Hammad notes, "The last stanza in June Jordan's 'Moving Towards Home' changed my life. I remember feeling validated by her statement. She dared speak of transformation, of re-birth, of a deep understanding of humanity. The essence of being Spirit, something no label can touch" (xi). This statement, when considered in light of her affirmation: "Home is within me. I carry everyone and everything I am with me wherever I go. Use my history as the road in front of me, the land beneath me. Paths are many, but essence is one and eternal" (ix), underlines the continuity that exists between the power of language and the empowerment of the self. It also stresses the multidimensionality of the transformations that language can mediate and express. As a life-changing power, the word authorizes and legitimizes, and in this act of midwifery, it forges a home. This home, in Hammad's case, is "located" in poetry. But forging this home is not enough to own it; it must be followed by an act of recognition and legitimization of ownership. Owning a home in language goes through a process of reclamation which allows for a becoming paralleling Jordan's. Reclaiming home thus is achieved through Hammad's movement toward the cultural tradition of this African-American poet in order to participate in the creation of a space for the "living room" and for the production of a form of energy contributing to the process of becoming "an other" through a sharing in the spirit of their experiences.

For Hammad, this legitimization comes from the use of a combinatorial approach that allows her to inscribe her name in an Arab context using a spiritual chant based on an African-American cultural form. This approach is developed in her poem "ismi" [the Arabic word for "my name"], where she says: "Please/learn to pronounce/the name of my spirit/the spirit of my name/correctly/and don't complain/it's too throaty/too deep/too guttural" (77). As she complains about ways of distorting her name in order to make it fit within the framework of the familiar and the known, Hammad calls for the preservation and acknowledgement of the difference emanating from the culture to which this name belongs, which forces the throat to explore regions and movements unfamiliar to it. Hammad's stress on the life-giving power of the name of her spirit, which even takes precedence over the spirit of her name, is extremely significant because of its cultural properties and its celebration of the energy behind the uttered word. The priority given, within the framework of a poem about Hammad's name/ identity, to the process of naming inscribes the poem within the African-American tradition. In fact, through this construction, Hammad is invoking the magic power of nommo.

To explain the importance of this emphasis on voice and more specifically naming and how it serves the becoming African-American of this Palestinian woman, in a process that parallels Jordan's journey into Palestinianness, I would like to make an intrusion into the field of African philosophy. In West African culture, nommo plays a crucial role in the configuration of a number of spiritual systems. It is the magic power of the word that has the capacity to call things into being and to create things using the unity of word, seed, water, and blood. As Janheinz Jahn maintains, nommo bridges the distance separating the signifier and the signified, the real and the metaphorical, and the living and the dead, a type of distance stressed and emphasized in the Western belief system (17). Within the African philosophical system, muntu is one of the categories of being that includes living and dead humans; they have the capacity to efficiently use the power of the word to create life in things. To become muntu, one must go through the sacred process of naming/being named; consequently, babies who lose their lives before they are named are not mourned since they are considered as part of Kintu, or the category of things, which can only be animated through the power of nommo. The issue of voice is crucial in this process of naming, and in African culture, it is differently perceived than in the Western system. Rather than point to a previously existing notion or concept, the voice in African thought becomes a means of creation and of conjuring; its power is literal and performative.

It is specifically this performative power of nommo that gives a different form of life to "Suheir Hammad" as a name. Only through the magic of nommo, the poet implies, can she feel whole and proceed to ask for the spirit of her name to be correctly pronounced. While at a very basic and immediate level, the spirit of her name might refer to the Arabic tradition, read in the context of her affiliative gesture with June Jordan, the poetics of this utterance relies on its hybrid character. It is transformative specifically because it places "Suheir Hammad" as a name at the heart of a spiritual community, creating an alternative way of belonging and legitimizing her ownership of her poetic home. It also signifies on a blackness which is claimed and thus refuses its inherited framing. In the "Author's Note," this framing is conveyed through the following passage:
   Black like the coal diamonds are birthed from
      Like the dark matter of the universe
      The Black September massacre of Palestinians
      The Arabic expression "to blacken your face"
        meaning to shame (x)

As the power of nommo is evoked, it aligns blackness in general, and more specifically Hammad's blackness in this context, with the third type of blackness she talks about in the following passage,
   Black like the genius of Stevie, Zora and Abdel-Haleem (2)
      relative purity
      like the face of God
      the face of your grandmother (x)

A different form of life is thus created, and when the spirit of the name is pronounced correctly, it brings together the Palestinianness of this poet with her old African properties. The form of life called into being by the "magic power of the word" does not only transform the named but also the namer. Hammad continues her poem by saying: "Begin it in your gut/let it tickle the back of your throat/warm under tongue/let it perfume your breath/ smooth your lips/and release it/round my hips/clearly" (77).

Working on the redefinition of labels and on the nuancing of their implications using the power of the word, Hammad adopts combinatorial poetics through the play on the notion of home in its relation to the self and its role in the understanding of otherness. This poetics works in multiple ways, since it offers Hammad with a space for the formation of a struggle-based lineage, which validates, through the parallelism she establishes with Jordan, her identity as a Palestinian Black woman. This affiliative poetic gesture is deeply anchored in the personal but also allows for the collective framing of her work to prefigure the artistic/cultural combinatorial approach adopted in some of her poems. It is one of these poems, "Taxi," which serves to illustrate her strategic gesture as she moves between the cultural, political and artistic realms. Addressing her African-American brothers and sisters in this poem, Hammad says,
   Conscious comrade
   There's a place uglier than uptown's slums
   Where the people are just as beautiful
   Strugglin sister
   There's a debke beat funky as P.E.'s riff
   Signalin revolution liberation and freedom

   So when we're vibin on the pale
   evil of welfare and crack know i'm
   Across the street and across the sea so when
   We're combatin cops and prisons know there are prisons
   Like ansar III nazis wouldn't touch pigs wouldn't visit
   so when we read baraka and listen to malcolm
   let's read darwish and keep on
   listenin to malcom

   So when you call me sista
   Ask after our family
   it ain't all about this poem
   and it ain't all about
   and little white women (13-14)

Starting from the cultural and more specifically the musical and artistic realms, Hammad uses combinatorial poetics in order to identify zones of intersection between the concerns and aspirations of the African-American and the Arab/Arab-American communities. These bridges serve to expand the meaning of community and question what Edward Said calls "commodified, packaged, uncontroversial, and uncritically codified certainties" (28). In "Taxi," Hammad establishes connections between the African-American and the Arab/Arab-American communities through the mention of two artistic forms: the Palestinian Debke beat and the hip-hop of Public Enemy. As musical symbols and forms of cultural expression, debke and hip hop constitute sites of communal identification based on solidarity, communal spirit, and belief in the cause of justice, freedom, and political consciousness. In fact, Public Enemy is a hip-hop group whose artistic production stresses the importance of black pride and the revolutionary potential emanating from the identification of sources of oppression and neo-slavery. In a parallel way, debke is a form of artistic expression where a rhythmic movement of the feet of dancers stomping the ground signifies solidarity. As Elke Kaschl puts it following Abdul-Latif Barghouthi, in the context of Palestinian popular culture, it is "the modern version of an ancient peasant dance grounded in the history and landscape of Palestine" (81) (3). Dabke is also anchored in Arab communal history as it relates, at least according to one theory about its origins, (4) to an old tradition in which men would collaborate in order to compact the roofs of houses in the Middle East. Before using the rolling stone or mahdaleh, they would attempt to "compact it [the roof] with their feet, and ... stomp the dirt hard in a uniform way that would compact it evenly." They would do so following rhythmic songs played by musicians in order to help the workers accomplish the task (par. 4). It is also worth noting that in the Palestinian diaspora, dabke is used to artistically chronicle Palestinian history, as it recounts the story of Al-nakba and conjures up the absent/silenced in canonical history.

The rhythmic nature of both forms of artistic expression and the common characteristics related to their message of solidarity and communal origins offer a combinatorial basis for the identification of commonalities in collective cultural expression. After this gesture, Hammad establishes a more explicit link between Arabs/Arab Americans and Black Americans, as she says "so when we read baraka and listen to malcolm, let's read darwish/ and keep on listening to malcolm." In these verses, two icons of African-American culture, Amiri Baraka and Malcolm X, are directly linked to Mahmoud Darwish, whose poetry calls for Arab and Palestinian national empowerment. As Naomi Shihab Nye says about this figure who blends the poetic and the political in order to convey the multifaceted character of the Palestinian ordeal and displacement, "Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging" (qtd. in Akash par. 1). Hammad thus connects two figures associated with the Black Arts Movement and Black Power with a figure who has long symbolized the national and artistic voice of Palestine.

Through the juxtaposition of these cultural/political icons, Hammad emphasizes the similarities in the message that their life and ideology convey, namely constructive revolt against oppression, injustice, and different forms of enslavement. Hammad's statement at the end of the poem, "it ain't all about this poem and it ain't all about/taxis/and little white women" (14), read in conjunction with "so when you call me sista/ask after our family" (13), calls for the expansion of the framework of struggle and knowledge about the cause of other groups. As Michelle Hartman notes, in her article "A Debke Beat Funky as P.E.'s Riff," which represents the only critical study of Hammad's poetry,
   [In Taxi], Hammad is reminding her African American sisters
   and brothers that merely local and parochial concerns of one
   community cannot be the main or only focus of social change.
   Developing an expanded sense of community must be more
   than simply calling someone 'sister' but show a deeper level
   of respect by asking about the larger family and community
   to which this person is tied. In this way she underlines that
   African Americans must be involved with fighting their own
   battles, but also those of Palestinians, because under their
   different guises they actually are the same battles.
      This poem, like the rest of Hammad's poetry, is not of
   course only directed to Black Americans; she also speaks
   specifically to the Arab and Arab American communities
   and proposes to Arab Americans that their experience does
   not have to be understood 'white' and 'invisible' as it so
   often has. (6)

Braiding cultural symbols and icons belonging to different traditions, Hammad revises artificial modes and models of intersectionality while challenging paradigms of absoluteness in difference. In form as well as content, her poetry negotiates the individual, the collective, and the ethnic in order to challenge narrow definitions of identity and to bridge, through the juggling of a number of cultural notions, different types of struggle for social justice. However, while she celebrates this struggle, she is extremely aware of the danger represented by the possibility of returning to traditional and exclusionary definitions of identity, civilization and progress. Her writing warns against the problems resulting from the adoption of such a narrow focus. It also calls, through its use of combinatorial poetics, for the formation of nuanced alliances and the transcendence of divisive racist attitudes reflecting the internalization of oppression by different minorities. In this respect, literature in general, and poetry in particular (as Born Palestinian, Born Black enacts it), serves as a seminal tool not only for the achievement of self-knowledge but also for self-redefinition/criticism.

In the context of this revision and self-redefinition, Hammad's poetic movement between the individual and collective realms plays a crucial role in shaping visions of home. It also intervenes in the reclamation of alternative histories and forms of memory, based on the deconstruction of hierarchies and the unmasking of the workings of power. Hammad's approach shows how a critique of the practices embedded within the hegemonic function of dominant discourses can be based in modified/transformed strategies of articulation (rather than new ones), working from the inside to redefine both center and margins. As she problematizes racial and gendered assumptions underlying essentialist approaches to models of self, Hammad constructs identity as a transformative engagement with the issues of different minorities and with possibilities of collective struggle. Such possibilities originate from the identification of commonalities in the ethnic American and Palestinian colonial ordeals, as both have not only political but also economic and socio-historical bases. In this respect, she revises the concept of affiliation by situating it at the site of intersection of the personal and the political, suggesting alternative locations for marginalized subjects. Through this gesture, she shows how memory and history can be used as a tool to ground action in the present and the future.

Works Cited

Akash, Munir. "On Mahmoud Darwish." Fence 5.1 (Spring/Summer 2002): 4 pars. 10 July 2006 < darwish.html>

Anglesey, Zoe, ed. Listen Up!: Spoken Word Poetry. New York: One World/ Ballantine, 1999.

Bogomolny, Abby, ed. New to North America: Writing by U.S. Immigrants, Their Children, and Grandchildren. New York: Burning Bush Publications, 1997.

Burrell, Jocelyn. Word: On Being a (Woman) Writer. New York: Feminist P, 2004.

"Dabke." 4 pars. 10 July 2006 <http://en.wikipedia/wiki/Dabke>

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language. Trans. Alan M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon, 1972.

Gillan, Maria M., and Jennifer Gillan. Identity lessons: Contemporary Writing About Learning to be American. New York: Penguin Books, 1999.

Greenberg, Judith. Trauma at Home: After 9/11. Lincoln, Nebraska: U of Nebraska P, 2003.

Hammad, Suheir. Born Palestinian, Born Black. New York & London: Harlem River P, 1996.

--. Drops of This Story. New York and London: Harlem River P, 1996.

--. ZaatarDiva. New York: Rattapallax Press, 2005.

Jahn, Janheinz. Muntu: An Outline of the New African Culture. Trans. Marjorie Grene. New York: Grove P, 1961.

Jordan, June. "Foreword to Civil Wars." Some of Us Did Not Die: News and Selected Essays of June Jordan. New York: Basic/Civitas Books, 2002. 306-308.

--. "Moving Towards Home." Naming our Destiny: New & Selected Poems. New York: Thunder's Mouth P, 1989. 142-43.

Kaschl, Elke. Dance and Authenticity in Israel and Palestine: Performing the Nation. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2003.

Majaj, Lisa Suhair. "The Hyphenated Author: Emerging Genre of 'Arab-American Literature' Poses Questions of Definition, Ethnicity and Art." Arab Culture and Civilization: A Collective Web Project from NITLE. 17 pars. 8 July 2006 <http://arabworld. php?module id=7& reading id=18>

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. "Introduction: Cartographies of Struggle: Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism." Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. Ed. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991. 1-47.

Rosaldo, Renato. Culture and Truth. Boston: Beacon P, 1989.

--. "Ideology, Place, and People without Culture" Cultural Anthropology 3 (February 1988): 77-87.

--. "Politics, Patriarchs, and Laughter" Cultural Critique 6 (Spring 1987): 65-86.

Rosenberg, Daniel. "El Funoun." World Music: The Rough Guide. Ed. by Simon Broughton and Mark Ellingham. London: Rough Guides, 1999. Vol. 1. 388.

Said, Edward W. Humanism and Democratic Criticism. New York: Columbia UP, 2004.

Shihab Nye, Naomi. Interview. By Lisa Suhair Majaj. Al Jadid 2:13 (November/December 1996): 27 pars. 12 July 2006 <www.aljadid. com/interviews/0213majaj.html>

--, ed. The Space Between Our Footsteps. New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1998.


(1) Renato Rosaldo uses this term to designate areas associated with Hispanic influence in the United States. In Culture and Truth, he emphasizes the importance of border zones as "sites of creative cultural production" rather than "analytically empty transitional zones" (208). Rosaldo and other theoreticians further highlight the "creative creolization" which takes place along borders, stressing the seminal role of the hybrid populations dwelling in such spaces in "subversively appropriat[ing] and creoliz[ing] master codes, decentering destablilizing, and carnivalizing dominant forms through 'strategic inflections' and 're-accentuations'"(9). See also Rosaldo's "Ideology, Place, and People without Culture" and "Politics, Patriarchs, and Laughter."

(2) Stevie Wonder (born in 1950) is the stage name of Steveland Morris, and African-American singer, record producer, songwriter, musician and social activist. A performer of R&B, soul and Motown, he influenced the new breed of hip hop artists in the United States, including Public Enemy and Jay-Z.

Zora Neale Hurston (1901?-1960) is an African-American anthropologist, folklorist, and author of the Harlem Renaissance. She wrote several articles and books, including Jonah's Gourd Vine, Mules and Men, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Seraph on the Suwanee, and Tell My Horse. Her work helped shape the Black Feminist Movement, after her rediscovery by African-American author Alice Walker.

Abdel-Haleem Hafez (1929-1977) is one of the most influential Egyptian singers of the 1950s and 1960s. Some of his most famous songs include "Bahlam Bik", "Sawwah", "Ouloulou", and "Awwel Marra."

(3) Dabke (also Debke, Debkeh, Dabkeh, Dabkah) dances are associated with popular turath or heritage and with celebrations and festivities not only in Palestine but also in Syria and Lebanon. In the context of Palestine, their importance as a site of memory and a form of cultural expression is reflected in the fact that during the Intifadah, they were banned, along with songs and certain types of music. Says Omar Barghouti, from a Palestinian dance/music group called El Funoun, "According to the Israelis, we were supposed to be a people without a culture. Over the years, we have faced numerous attempts to suppress it [Palestinian culture]. During the Intifadah, our rehearsals were clandestine. We would rehearse underground. We had to play music as quietly as possible. Everyone would whisper. At the time, these activities were banned, and we all knew that we faced being arrested every time an Israeli patrol passed by" (Rosenberg 388).

(4) As Kaschl explains, other theories about the origin of Dabke, such as Abdul-Latif Barghouthi's and 'Awwad Sa 'ud al-'Awwad's, link this dance to "ancient rural symbology." Al-Awwad specifically relates Dabke to "age-old Canaanite fertility rites," where the growth of plants was enhanced by the jumps of dancers, which were believed to drive away evil forces and thus protect the growth of seedlings (82).


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Article Details
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Author:Harb, Sirene
Publication:Studies in the Humanities
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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