The Reliability of Cross-Cultural Communication in Contemporary Anglophone Arab Writing

, Ali A. Alhajji, Ph.D. . 2018
Publication Work Type: 
Ph.D. Dissertation
Publication Abstract: 

Within this dissertation, I pay exclusive attention to methodologies of cross-cultural communication in post–World War II Anglophone Arab literature. Hitherto critical accounts discussing cross-cultural communication in this kind of literary tradition focused special attention on the use of English to reach a wide audience and on the process of cultural representation. Most accounts examine methods of delivery as an expected consequence of more complex representations without devoting much space for theorizing cross-cultural communication. Much of post-1960 Anglophone Arab literary production in the diaspora addresses the problem of cross-cultural communication differently.

As cultural translators, interpreters, and mediators, Anglophone Arab writers insist on reframing current misconceptions about themselves. Negative depictions manifested in representing a collective Arabic identity stand in contrast to the actual heterogeneous identities of Arabic-speaking individuals and their descendants. In addition to these superficial representations, dramatic events such the Arab-Israeli conflict (1948–present), the Six-Day War (1967), the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990),
the Persian Gulf War (1990–1991), the Iraq War (2003–present), and 9/11 and the consequent War on Terror enlarged divisions between “East” and “West,” which resulted in conflating Arabic and Arab diasporic identities with global politics. 

In order to overcome this dilemma of conflation and association, Arab writers produced literary pieces that depict more complicated representations of themselves as individuals who exhibit cultural and political diversity. This self-appropriation is not only limited to producing more complicated and heterogeneous representations via Arab diasporic writing, but also extends to posing major challenges to approaches about expressing the Self. Nowhere are these challenges more keenly evident than in contemporary Anglophone Arab writers’ literary production. My dissertation demonstrates that the unreliable nature of recent Anglophone Arab writing prevents the successful cross-cultural communication that some critics conceive to exist.