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Arab-American Faces and Voices

Elizabeth Boosahda
Copyright Date: 2003
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/709195
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  • Book Info
    Arab-American Faces and Voices
    Book Description:

    As Arab Americans seek to claim their communal identity and rightful place in American society at a time of heightened tension between the United States and the Middle East, an understanding look back at more than one hundred years of the Arab-American community is especially timely. In this book, Elizabeth Boosahda, a third-generation Arab American, draws on over two hundred personal interviews, as well as photographs and historical documents that are contemporaneous with the first generation of Arab Americans (Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians), both Christians and Muslims, who immigrated to the Americas between 1880 and 1915, and their descendants.

    Boosahda focuses on the Arab-American community in Worcester, Massachusetts, a major northeastern center for Arab immigration, and Worcester's links to and similarities with Arab-American communities throughout North and South America. Using the voices of Arab immigrants and their families, she explores their entire experience, from emigration at the turn of the twentieth century to the present-day lives of their descendants. This rich documentation sheds light on many aspects of Arab-American life, including the Arab entrepreneurial motivation and success, family life, education, religious and community organizations, and the role of women in initiating immigration and the economic success they achieved.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79888-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. MAPS
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. DISCLAIMER
    (pp. xvii-xvii)
    E. B.
  8. METHODOLOGY: Data Collection
    (pp. xviii-xx)
  9. Chapter One HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
    (pp. 1-16)

    The Arab heritage encompasses a diversity of nationalities and religions. It is a cultural and linguistic identity deeply rooted in the feeling of many people and countries and expressed through a single language and common customs, traditions, and values. Being Arab is not a racial identity, and to identify an Arab by his or her features or name is difficult. An Arab can trace his or her ancestry to an Arabic-speaking country. Arab surnames are frequently biblical, for example, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Joseph.

    Arabs belong to the Semitic branch of the Caucasian race and were the indigenous people of...

  10. Chapter Two MIGRATION
    (pp. 17-48)

    One of the thousands of immigrants was Bashara K. Forzley, who emigrated from Karhoun (now Qaraaoun, Lebanon). In his autobiography he remembers the words of wisdom spoken by his mother regarding his personal journey:

    On a warm summer day in 1897, Salem Ferris Haddad, Ameen Antoun Forzley, and I, Bashara Kalil Forzley, boarded a ship destined for America, at Beirut, Lebanon. I was the youngest of the three. Before I sailed, mother gave me advice which I have never forgotten. First, ‘‘Always associate with people who are your elders.’’ Second, ‘‘Do not indulge in liquor, smoking, dating or partying. By...

  11. Chapter Three MULTICULTURAL AND MULTIRELIGIOUS NEIGHBORHOODS
    (pp. 49-64)

    From the hills and valleys of western Syria, the Arab-American immigrants made their journey to the hills and valleys of Worcester. They settled in three vibrant multicultural and multireligious neighborhoods on the east side of the city near the Union Passenger Railroad Station.

    The neighborhoods were open and fluid ethnomicrocosms of immigrant America, with successive waves of immigrants. One neighborhood was located in a section of Oak Hill, one of Worcester’s fifteen hills,¹ in the area of Norfolk and Wall Streets. The second neighborhood was in the area of East Central and East Worcester Streets at the lower end of...

  12. Chapter Four WORK
    (pp. 65-90)

    The immigrant’s first phase of earning a living was usually as a merchant of dry goods and notions, commonly called a pack peddler. The peddlers were married couples working together or singly, unmarried men or women, widowers or widows, and teenage boys. They traveled door-to-door to the outskirts of the city and surrounding towns by foot or by horse and buggy and out of state as far as the Midwest by foot or train. They worked for weeks or months at a time before returning home. Peddling was a carryover fromel-belaad, where it was a normal form of commerce....

  13. Chapter Five TRADITION, EDUCATION, AND CULTURE
    (pp. 91-130)

    While striving to earn a living, peddling and otherwise, most young Arab Americans had the goal of marriage to spur them on. The marriage customs described in this book followed a traditional pattern in the Christian Arab-American community. (Since many early Muslim and Druze Arab Americans had returned to their homelands or died by the late 1980s, my primary source data on their marriage ceremonies is inadequate.)

    Weddings take different forms among Muslims and Christians, but all are occasions for festivity and socializing. A Muslim wedding does not have what Westerners think of as a marriage ceremony. Instead, Muslims have...

  14. Chapter Six AMERICANIZATION
    (pp. 131-170)

    While most Arab-American immigrants retained their Arab culture and ties to their homelands, they nevertheless chose to become U.S. citizens. To do this, they had to file two papers: a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen and, after a five-year residency, a petition for naturalization. The only exception to the residency requirement was made for men who had served in the armed forces. Before 1922, when a husband or father became a naturalized citizen, the wife and children automatically became citizens. The benefits of citizenship were the opportunity to homestead in the West and to vote. For an Arab...

  15. Chapter Seven LEGACY AND LINKAGE
    (pp. 171-196)

    The descendants of the early Arab-American immigrants who emigrated from 1880 to 1915 are generally proud people. They love their Arab heritage and warmly embrace their American nationality. Their elders influenced them by establishing linkages to their social and cultural heritage through language, food, family record keeping, music, photos, traditions, and holiday celebrations.

    When Very Rev. Michael M. H. died, his collection of Arabic books was given to his daughter, Ethel H.M.K. When Ethel died, the family decided Sam S., a nephew, should acquire the collection as Sam had been fluent in Arabic since the age of eight and additionally...

  16. Addendum I. PRIVATE-SECTOR ORGANIZATIONS
    (pp. 197-203)
  17. Addendum II. THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE ARAB WORLD AFTER WORLD WAR II
    (pp. 204-206)
  18. Genealogy: EXPANDED KINSHIP IN ONE FAMILY
    (pp. 207-210)
  19. TIMELINE OF EASTERN ORTHODOX SYRIAN CHURCH
    (pp. 211-221)
  20. NOTES
    (pp. 222-243)
  21. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 244-247)
  22. ILLUSTRATION CREDITS
    (pp. 248-248)
  23. ANNOTATED SUGGESTED READING
    (pp. 249-259)
  24. ORGANIZATIONS, COLLECTIONS, AND EXHIBITS
    (pp. 260-266)
  25. AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 267-267)
  26. INDEX OF ARABIC TERMS
    (pp. 268-269)
  27. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 270-284)