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El-Ghorba: A Media Ethnography of Transnationalism among Arab Immigrant Families in Canada
Unformatted Document Text:  Ghorba Perhaps the most obvious explanation for this community’s drive to maintain connections with their homelands can be captured effectively with a single word that encapsulates the emotional and logical motivations to build bridges to their homelands, Ghorba. In its colloquial meaning it describes the emotional yearning of a traveler or migrant to return home. The origin of the word (ghara-ba) in classical Arabic is the title of someone who has left her home. Implied in this original meaning is a feeling of guilt for doing so, but it also suggests a probable return to the homeland in the future, and that the absence is only temporary. Ana mitgharab (I feel far from home). I never got used to it. I feel isolated by being here. Satellite TV helps remove Ghorba but its not enough. For a short time only, once you shut off the TV, your back again. I turn on the TV before I catch the bus to go to school. One minute I’m watching the news, the next minute I’m on the metro transit bus to campus. Another derivative of the word is the noun Al-Ightirab Al-Thihny (Mental separation). This term is used to describe non-physical detachment from a place. It is best applied to the parental generation of informants in this research who feel out of place in Halifax and Canada. They have a mental distance from where they reside. The very households in which they live are emblematic of this distance from the surrounding landscape. Entering Zeinab’s house for the first time was like walking into a bazaar of difference. It was a territory so remote from everything outside of it and separated from the world only by a two-inch wooden door. While over hundreds of years, the word has been transformed to mean various things like the word ghareeb (strange and bizarre) and gharb (west), the key meaning is ghorba (emotional yearning to return to homeland). In some ways, one could argue that these migrants are the rope in a tug-o-war. On one side the forces of acculturation and cultural adaptation tug on them, while on the other they have ghorba dragging them back towards ‘home’. On either side of the rope, western and Arab television media have joined opposite teams. At some point, the ropes are going to give and when they do, it will be one or the other. Yet, in the meantime, as the tug-o-war game continues, at least for its duration, they are the true ‘hybrids’. Bibliography Abu-Lughod, L. (1997).The interpretation of culture(s) after television. Representations, 59,109-134. Abu-Lughod, L. (1995). The objects of soap opera: Egyptian television and the cultural politics of modernity. In Daniel Miller (Ed.), Worlds apart: Modernity through the prism of the local (pp. 190-210). London. Anderson, J.A. (1987). Communication research: Issues and methods. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Authors: Iskandar Farag, Adel.
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Ghorba
Perhaps the most obvious explanation for this community’s drive to maintain connections
with their homelands can be captured effectively with a single word that encapsulates the
emotional and logical motivations to build bridges to their homelands, Ghorba. In its colloquial
meaning it describes the emotional yearning of a traveler or migrant to return home. The origin
of the word (ghara-ba) in classical Arabic is the title of someone who has left her home. Implied
in this original meaning is a feeling of guilt for doing so, but it also suggests a probable return to
the homeland in the future, and that the absence is only temporary.
Ana mitgharab (I feel far from home). I never got used to it. I feel isolated by being here.
Satellite TV helps remove Ghorba but its not enough. For a short time only, once you shut off the
TV, your back again. I turn on the TV before I catch the bus to go to school. One minute I’m
watching the news, the next minute I’m on the metro transit bus to campus.

Another derivative of the word is the noun Al-Ightirab Al-Thihny (Mental separation). This term
is used to describe non-physical detachment from a place. It is best applied to the parental
generation of informants in this research who feel out of place in Halifax and Canada. They have
a mental distance from where they reside. The very households in which they live are
emblematic of this distance from the surrounding landscape. Entering Zeinab’s house for the first
time was like walking into a bazaar of difference. It was a territory so remote from everything
outside of it and separated from the world only by a two-inch wooden door.

While over hundreds of years, the word has been transformed to mean various things like the
word ghareeb (strange and bizarre) and gharb (west), the key meaning is ghorba (emotional
yearning to return to homeland). In some ways, one could argue that these migrants are the rope
in a tug-o-war. On one side the forces of acculturation and cultural adaptation tug on them, while
on the other they have ghorba dragging them back towards ‘home’. On either side of the rope,
western and Arab television media have joined opposite teams. At some point, the ropes are
going to give and when they do, it will be one or the other. Yet, in the meantime, as the tug-o-
war game continues, at least for its duration, they are the true ‘hybrids’.
Bibliography
Abu-Lughod, L. (1997).The interpretation of culture(s) after television. Representations, 59,
109-134.

Abu-Lughod, L. (1995). The objects of soap opera: Egyptian television and the cultural politics
of modernity. In Daniel Miller (Ed.), Worlds apart: Modernity through the prism of the local
(pp. 190-210). London.

Anderson, J.A. (1987). Communication research: Issues and methods. New York: McGraw-
Hill.


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