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The Vast Veil: Black Arabs and Blackness in the Contemporary Arab Fiction
Abstract by Dr. Wijdan Alsayegh On Session I-26  (Racializing Arab Cultures)

On Thursday, November 2 at 3:00 pm

2023 Annual Meeting

This phenomenon appears in Arabic novels which were written by bold writers who utilize the fictional techniques such as characters, protagonists, plots, dialogue, monologue, etc., to explore their condemnations the humiliation of black Arabs and their racial social segregation. This monograph argues that Arabic narration highlights the social segregation of black Arabs by: 1) Employing fictional techniques to intensify the light on the psychological impact of this social marginalization practice on Black Arabs and to reflect their frustrations and disappointments; 2) Reflecting the justifications of the Arab social classes’ racial practice towards black Arabs; 3) Exposing the social stratification that has placed black Arabs in social segregation and deprived them of their normal social role. The study sources are the selected novels that reflect the new paradigm of the racial system that relies on black skin and discovers the interconnection between the racial ideology and the Arab society especially; first, it Inspects the racialization of the social structure of Arab countries, particularly through the different Arab cultures.; second, it explores the factors causing the marginalization of Black Arabs, and their social segregation. The selected novels are according to the diversity of Arab countries to which they belong to; first, the Yemeni novel (Black Taste, Black Smell - 2008) internalizes the tribal society and its severe social classifications, from the Gentry (Al-Sada) class to the Akhdam (servant) class and the marginalized ones; second, the Saudi novel (Smell’s Traps - 2003) depicts the racist vision against black Arabs in an extremist conservative society; third, the Emirati novel (Rehana - 2004) by the novelist that traces the plight of the black Arabs after their liberation from slavery in the Gulf states, and describes their frustration towards their society after abolition; fourth, the Sudanese novel (Ankle bracelets of Thorns- 2015) explores the suffering of black Arabs and the depth of their psychological impact under a racial society that rejects them because of their blackness and strips them from any social interaction. This novel observes the social circumstances that outrages racism.; fifth, the Bahraini novel (The Springs - 2013) exposes the social system that adheres to dealing inferiorly with the black Arabs after granting them their emancipation and declaring their freedom from slavery in the Gulf countries; sixth, the Egyptian novel (Leaps of the Gazelle 2002) reflects the Bedouin society in the Egyptian desert and its racial action that marginalized black Arabs.
Geographic Area
All Middle East
Sub Area