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El-Ghorba: A Media Ethnography of Transnationalism among Arab Immigrant Families in Canada
Unformatted Document Text:  this distinction is the supposition that the homeland is always distant. Perhaps the only force capable of bringing this homeland closer is the television. Satelite TV can give you a little dose of that homeland. Before we had it, if I found an Arabic newspaper, I would cling to it. I missed it because I was cut off from it. I think it was like that with VCR’s before satellite TV. We would watch Arabic programs that were recorded and that was our connection to home and the past. For some this force is more real than virtual. It is capable of creating the illusion of presence so powerfully that one feels transported to the ard. Moodi once explained to me how he felt like he was living in parallel worlds. When he woke up at home he was in Kuwait, listening to the Arabic news in the morning, enjoying some classical Arabic music from Fairuz (a top recording artist from Lebanon) and the minute he stepped out of the door he was in another realm. To people like Bandar though, Arabic satellite TV is his little piece of home positioned right in the corner of his living room. However it is no substitute for the real thing. Suggesting his probable and eventual return to the Arab world, he explained, “so long as I am away from home, I need my satellite TV.” TV creates reality Mohammed, in accordance with Moodi’s comments, explains how he feels he has entered a time warp where he everything is so real and reminiscent of home and yet he realizes that it is only a temporary situation. He expresses how reality is recreated by the television: If the TV is off, I’m in Canada again. It’s like a time capsule, it’s like I’m in our apartment in Mohandeseen (dictrict in Giza, Egypt). I know it’s a separate reality that I can only get in doses. However for these families, television is a reality in a vastly different way as well. Some like Ali and Moodi feel that Arabic TV tells them what reality they would be living if their parents had not decided to immigrate. They feel they are external observers to what is happening to people in their homelands. When I watch the satellite TV, I realize that this is what I would have been like if I had grown up in an Arab country. I’m definitely an outsider when I speak to friends and family in Egypt. I see them becoming what I didn’t become. But more often than not, the position of the external observer can create much cognitive dissonance among these families. Latifa, the mother of four, says that seeing life go on in the Arab world in her absence is very painful. She feels extremely apart from it. As she wakes up every morning to prepare breakfast for her children before they head out Queen Elizabeth High or Frazer junior high, she remembers how many friends and relatives have been married, have had babies, and are continuing their lives while she forges hers on the other side of the globe. “Which part of my life is real,” she repeats to her frequently. The Arabic television channels for Latifa are a constant reminder of what she wants but cannot get.

Authors: Iskandar Farag, Adel.
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this distinction is the supposition that the homeland is always distant. Perhaps the only force
capable of bringing this homeland closer is the television.

Satelite TV can give you a little dose of that homeland. Before we had it, if I found an Arabic
newspaper, I would cling to it. I missed it because I was cut off from it. I think it was like that
with VCR’s before satellite TV. We would watch Arabic programs that were recorded and that
was our connection to home and the past.
For some this force is more real than virtual. It is capable of creating the illusion of
presence so powerfully that one feels transported to the ard. Moodi once explained to me how he
felt like he was living in parallel worlds. When he woke up at home he was in Kuwait, listening
to the Arabic news in the morning, enjoying some classical Arabic music from Fairuz (a top
recording artist from Lebanon) and the minute he stepped out of the door he was in another
realm. To people like Bandar though, Arabic satellite TV is his little piece of home positioned
right in the corner of his living room. However it is no substitute for the real thing. Suggesting
his probable and eventual return to the Arab world, he explained, “so long as I am away from
home, I need my satellite TV.”
TV creates reality
Mohammed, in accordance with Moodi’s comments, explains how he feels he has entered
a time warp where he everything is so real and reminiscent of home and yet he realizes that it is
only a temporary situation. He expresses how reality is recreated by the television:

If the TV is off, I’m in Canada again. It’s like a time capsule, it’s like I’m in our apartment in
Mohandeseen (dictrict in Giza, Egypt). I know it’s a separate reality that I can only get in doses.
However for these families, television is a reality in a vastly different way as well. Some
like Ali and Moodi feel that Arabic TV tells them what reality they would be living if their
parents had not decided to immigrate. They feel they are external observers to what is happening
to people in their homelands.

When I watch the satellite TV, I realize that this is what I would have been like if I had grown up
in an Arab country. I’m definitely an outsider when I speak to friends and family in Egypt. I see
them becoming what I didn’t become.
But more often than not, the position of the external observer can create much cognitive
dissonance among these families. Latifa, the mother of four, says that seeing life go on in the
Arab world in her absence is very painful. She feels extremely apart from it. As she wakes up
every morning to prepare breakfast for her children before they head out Queen Elizabeth High
or Frazer junior high, she remembers how many friends and relatives have been married, have
had babies, and are continuing their lives while she forges hers on the other side of the globe.
“Which part of my life is real,” she repeats to her frequently. The Arabic television channels for
Latifa are a constant reminder of what she wants but cannot get.


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