'They don't know us, what we are': an analysis of two young adult texts with Arab-Western protagonists

Lampert, Jo (2006) 'They don't know us, what we are': an analysis of two young adult texts with Arab-Western protagonists. Papers: Explorations into children's literature, 16(2), pp. 51-57.

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Since 9/11, when Arabs in the West found themselves under suspicion, the way Arabs could be portrayed in Young Adult fiction has become complicated. This paper will look at two examples of this fiction to explore the difficult position characters in these texts now find themselves in. The short story 'Alone and All Together' (Geha 2002) is written by an Arab-American author. In it, Labibeh and her sister must negotiate their relationship with America both by maintaining their Arab identification in the days after 9/11 whilst at the same time proving that they are real and loyal Americans. Similarly, in the Young Adult novel Does My Head Look Big in This (Abdel-Fattah 2005) authored by a self-proclaimed 'Australian-born-Muslim-Palestinian- Egyptian-choc-o-holic' writer, a young Muslim girl must contend with racism and misunderstanding at her private school in Melbourne when she decides to wear the hijab. As in the first text, she too must prove her status as a 'normal' Western girl while at the same time proudly maintaining her commitment to Islam. This delicate balance does not come easily for any of these characters, nor is it without sacrifice as the protagonists negotiate their cultural identities in acceptable ways.

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ID Code: 6854
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: cultural identity, race politics, children's literature, September 11
ISSN: 1034-9243
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology of Education (160809)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LITERARY STUDIES (200500)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > Schools > School of Cultural & Language Studies in Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 The author(s).
Deposited On: 03 Apr 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2012 15:12

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