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El-Ghorba: A Media Ethnography of Transnationalism among Arab Immigrant Families in Canada
Unformatted Document Text:  It’s the opposite of that saying, out of sight, out of mind. With the television on, my home is in sight and in mind. It’s very painful. Transnationalism One of the few things true of all the informants I lived with and spoke to is how their lives are being lived on various planes of spatiality and identity. The transnational dimensions exist not only in their interpretation of their identities but also in their medium’s (television) ability to cross these rigid boundaries to deliver a configuration of reality. Yet the conflict occurs in the minds of each of these immigrants. One informant explains: When someone chooses elements of a certain culture, they do that because it makes sense to them. There is a current that doesn’t change, but only the people do. Acculturation is mixing and matching. The feeling of inbetween-ness is what contributes to many of the children’s confusion about any definitive identity. Moodi who is among the better adapted of my young informants expresses his anguish at being a hybrid, instead of one or the other. My identity, for instance, is a complete mess-up. I don’t even know what the hell I am. I’m not American, I’m not Canadian yet I’m an Egyptian citizen and Canadian resident. I lived in Canada for 6 years and I no longer know what I am. I’m like this cornucopia of something. For others, the confusion of the hybrid can only be relieved by doses of one identity that attempt to ossify it and instead attempt to displace the other. Ali, for instance, tries to showcase his unitary identity before the ‘other’ in an attempt to reinforce his sense of connection. The importance of demonstrating the positive attributes of one’s identity is in itself a way of solidifying it in one’s own mind and the mind of others. I watch it for myself. It reinforces strings of my identity together. They don’t necessarily mold together but they don’t make sense. There is no big picture. You can identify with some, but it’s very little. I find myself disagreeing with many things. Especially the positive things, I hold them up. It’s because I have so many doubts about my heritage. There is so much negative about Arabs that I hold up the positive when I find it. I also try to water down the negative. However, the true discovery of their hybridity comes when the migrant returns to their homeland. The many years they spend in their recipient country trying to resist change and maintain a ‘pure’ identity, are often shattered when they discover they are no longer full-fledged members of that homeland. Instead, one resorts to alternative explanations and loci for identity. I can’t consider a give place home because when I go to Egypt, which is a home I haven’t lived in for a long time, I feel like an alien in my own home. Here isn’t home either, because my culture isn’t from here, it doesn’t belong in this place. So I don’t know. A part of me is Egyptian but a large part of me isn’t. I know I’m Nubian…its an only resort for me because I need to feel like I am part of something or belong somewhere.

Authors: Iskandar Farag, Adel.
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background image
It’s the opposite of that saying, out of sight, out of mind. With the television on, my home is in
sight and in mind. It’s very painful.
Transnationalism

One of the few things true of all the informants I lived with and spoke to is how their
lives are being lived on various planes of spatiality and identity. The transnational dimensions
exist not only in their interpretation of their identities but also in their medium’s (television)
ability to cross these rigid boundaries to deliver a configuration of reality. Yet the conflict occurs
in the minds of each of these immigrants. One informant explains:

When someone chooses elements of a certain culture, they do that because it makes sense to
them. There is a current that doesn’t change, but only the people do. Acculturation is mixing and
matching.
The feeling of inbetween-ness is what contributes to many of the children’s confusion
about any definitive identity. Moodi who is among the better adapted of my young informants
expresses his anguish at being a hybrid, instead of one or the other.

My identity, for instance, is a complete mess-up. I don’t even know what the hell I am. I’m not
American, I’m not Canadian yet I’m an Egyptian citizen and Canadian resident. I lived in
Canada for 6 years and I no longer know what I am. I’m like this cornucopia of something.
For others, the confusion of the hybrid can only be relieved by doses of one identity that
attempt to ossify it and instead attempt to displace the other. Ali, for instance, tries to showcase
his unitary identity before the ‘other’ in an attempt to reinforce his sense of connection. The
importance of demonstrating the positive attributes of one’s identity is in itself a way of
solidifying it in one’s own mind and the mind of others.

I watch it for myself. It reinforces strings of my identity together. They don’t necessarily mold
together but they don’t make sense. There is no big picture. You can identify with some, but it’s
very little. I find myself disagreeing with many things. Especially the positive things, I hold them
up. It’s because I have so many doubts about my heritage. There is so much negative about
Arabs that I hold up the positive when I find it. I also try to water down the negative.
However, the true discovery of their hybridity comes when the migrant returns to their
homeland. The many years they spend in their recipient country trying to resist change and
maintain a ‘pure’ identity, are often shattered when they discover they are no longer full-fledged
members of that homeland. Instead, one resorts to alternative explanations and loci for identity.

I can’t consider a give place home because when I go to Egypt, which is a home I haven’t lived
in for a long time, I feel like an alien in my own home. Here isn’t home either, because my
culture isn’t from here, it doesn’t belong in this place. So I don’t know. A part of me is Egyptian
but a large part of me isn’t. I know I’m Nubian…its an only resort for me because I need to feel
like I am part of something or belong somewhere.


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