In Response to Narratives of Stereotypes: Arab American Playwrights Reclaim and Fortify Arab American Representation

Roaa Ali

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In America, the aftermath of 9/11 saw stereotyping against Arabs become a dominant ideological force, inscribing and impacting the relationship between Arab Americans and the US. Along with a tradition of stereotyping always-already framed within an Orientalist discourse, the lack of representational platforms for Arab Americans solidified their negative visibility. This paper examines how Arab American playwrights have used the theatrical space to offer self-representation as an alternative to culturally and institutionally inscribed stereotypes in response to an urgent demand for cultural, social and political survival. Dramatizing the process and effects of social stereotyping, Sam Younis' Browntown (2009) reveals the cultural mechanisms of mainstream stereotypes through satirically presenting an Arab American actor, only cast for terrorist roles. Yussef El Guindi's Back of the Throat (2005) captures institutional legalization of discrimination as the more damaging form of stereotypes presenting the case of an Arab American framed and tried by the "terrorist" stereotype. Younis and El Guindi?s plays unsettle stereotypes offering a resisting Althusserian interpellation against anti-Arab/Muslim ("terrorist") state ideology. This paper thus argues that theatre provided a radical platform for Arab Americans to defy state and cultural discourses and reach a multicultural identity that is American in its principles and Arab American in its terminology.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 3 Nov 2017


    • Arab-American drama
    • 9/11
    • stereotyping


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