This article is based on ethnographic research among southern Lebanese in Dearborn, Michigan, in the aftermath of the 2006 war in Lebanon. It focuses on the significance of family and gender in the intensification of long-distance nationalism among Lebanese in diaspora. The war inspired a sense of belonging to a transnational Lebanese family under siege. This naturalized the practice of “comfort mothering,” which met the emotive needs of a diaspora engaged from a distance with a war in the homeland. The paper explores how concepts and practices of belonging to a transnational “Arab family” placed a double duty on women activists in official Arab American public politics. Engagements with normative concepts of belonging to an “American family” entailed a gendered strategy of resistance in which Arab American official politics deployed women’s narratives to humanize the Lebanese in the face of a “war on terror” discourse that conflated Lebanese Shi‘ite masculinity with Hizballah and terrorism. This essay aims to expand theories on the intersections between gender and nation in light of transnational experiences of war. It also questions the expansiveness of intersectionality in light of a collective experience of military invasion in which the urgency of war overdetermines the significance of other forms of oppression, including gender oppression.
Nadine Naber; Transnational Families Under Siege: Lebanese Shi‘a in Dearborn, Michigan, and the 2006 War on Lebanon. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 1 November 2009; 5 (3): 145–174. doi: https://doi.org/10.2979/MEW.2009.5.3.145
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